Flood map changes to meet federal guidelines

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is requiring the city and other communities in Lycoming County to make changes to their floodplain zoning maps.

“FEMA requires the changes and if we don’t make them we lose the city flood insurance,” said Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator.

The city Planning Commission Monday took the initial step giving, the changes proposed a positive recommendation. City Council is set to review the changes. Council will hold a first – and at another meeting – a second reading.

Commission members were not overly concerned about the changes required by the federal agency upon listening to an explanation by Gary Knarr, city zoning officer.

“We’re making mostly changes to definitions and wording that bring us into compliance with FEMA guidelines,” Knarr said.

The city planner’s review was a first step, but other municipalities are presently involved in making similar changes such as South Williamsport, Old Lycoming, Loyalsock Township, Montoursville and DuBoistown, according to Fran McJunkin, a county official who oversees floodplain mapping systems.

“Any map panel that touches the levee system had to be updated and that’s what’s being done now,” she said. “These are subtle changes and mostly consist of the way things are described by FEMA,” she said. “They are not broad or sweeping changes,” she said.

The vast part of the city is protected by a flood levee and residents are not required to carry the flood insurance as some others are in other municipalities without such protection, Knarr said.

A few areas west toward Daugherty’s Run and north along Grafius Run are not covered by the flood wall, Knarr said.

The contour of the revised map won’t change, according to John Grado, city engineer and director of community and economic development. “We have a floodplain management ordinance that is consistent with the new guidelines,” Grado said.

The county intends to do a similar project in about a year for the rest of the the municipalities that are not touched by the 11-mile-long flood wall updates are done to floodplain maps, McJunkin said.