April 20, 2010 at 8:12 am • • No comments yet

FEMA officials discuss Brown County's base flood elevation at Brownwood City Hall

Brown County received some promising news Monday after representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) came to Brownwood to discuss their two-year long re-mapping project that has threatened to raise the area’s base flood elevation levels.

Representatives from FEMA met with Brown County Commissioners, City of Brownwood officials, Brown County Water Improvement District Board Members and other officials to discuss the issue that has been a hot topic in the last few months. Gary Zimmer and Ron Wanhanen of FEMA discussed with officials their findings after an initial study by Ron Morrison of Morrison Hydrology was analyzed and found that the base flood elevation of the county needed to be at an opposed elevation of 1438 mean sea level (msl). This would be an increase of 3 feet over the current level which could make insurance premiums all over the county rise.

Local officials have made the argument that using actual historical flood data from the lake area should be considered over the computer models used in the studies. After receiving some historical data of flooding dating back to when Lake Brownwood was constructed (1933), Morrison reevaluated his initial analysis since he did not initially have this information. Taking this into consideration along with rainfall data, Morrison stated that the models he initially used were not accurate and that the lake level and gauge records of rainfall would make 1435 msl (the current flood elevation level) a more accurate flood plain level.

Zimmer of FEMA stated that with some technical clarification of the historical data, FEMA would consider leaving the flood elevation level unchanged for the city and the county.

“We (FEMA) just have to have clarification of some levels…” Zimmer said, “Separate technical discussion would do us all good.” He added, “To leave it alone, with the old analysis on the map…leaving it up to the city and county on how they use the information.”

Area officials at the meeting were pleased overall with the outcome of the meeting.

“This is a very fruitful meeting,” Morrison said. “I feel really good about it now.”

Morrison committed to getting the final information to FEMA in the next month to hopefully get their final decision.

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