Flood photos could aid revised maps

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Does anyone remember extreme flooding events such as the one that put all of Webb’s Mills Village under water?

Or, has anyone heard family members talk about the floods that possibly happened in 1936 and 1947?

Or do people have photographic proof of the flood in 1987 or the more recent Patriots Day Storm?

Casco Code Enforcement Officer (CEO) Don Murphy is requesting that area residents who have photographs that show the results of “the 100-year flood” share those photos with his department.

People can bring old photos to the Casco Town Office, where Murphy can scan them onto a computer document.

These photos will supplement an informative meeting for the benefit of local property-owners. The meeting will be chance for homeowners to see flood plains maps that are in the process of being revised, Murphy said.

Two changes are being made on the federal level, Murphy said.

First, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has revised the language; and, the 100-year flood is now called the 1% flood, Murphy said.

“FEMA changed the 100-year flood to the 1% flood. It could happen once every 30 years, or once every 25 years,” he said.

“Basically, there is a 1% chance of it happening at any time,” he said.

Secondly, FEMA is updating the flood plains maps that are part of the government’s flood insurance program, Murphy said.

Given the recent events such as Tropical Storm Irene and Hurricane Sandy that hit New York and New Jersey, FEMA has been re-examining the Northeast coast.

“The first maps of the ocean coastline have raised the flood plain by 10 feet there, and included houses that weren’t in the flood plains before,” he said.

Revised flood plains maps of interior Maine are also going before the scrutiny of the people living in these areas.

This proposed map change could impact residents of Casco who are insured through the federal government’s flood insurance program.

In some instances, a piece of property that was previously not in the flood plains could be drawn in according to the proposed maps, Murphy said.

Also, if residents do not vote to accept the proposed maps at Town Meeting in 2015, the federal government will exclude the Town of Casco from its flood insurance program.

That means that people will be forced to turn to the open market for flood insurance coverage; and, that could be costly, Murphy said.

“The public has the opportunity to provide better information for the proposed maps,” he said.

So, the best bet is to get educated about the changes.

Therefore, in late January, Murphy will be hosting a question-and-answer session so people can review the old FEMA maps against the now proposed maps.

The public event, which will be held at the Casco Community Center, will run from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28. During the last hour of the informative meeting, a panel discussion will be held.

Hosting that panel will be Jim Neadows, a surveyor who is certified to train surveyors; Realtor Anne Plummer, who owns Anne Plummer & Associates, a company that deals with waterfront real estate; an insurance agent from Chalmers Insurance Group based in Bridgton; and a representative from the Raymond-Casco Historical Society. Murphy will also sit on the panel under his new role of community flood plains official, he said.

Raymond-Casco Historical Society members have been kind enough to sort through boxes, looking for flood-related snapshots or newspaper clippings, he said.

To prove the frequency of wet weather patterns, testimony can be found in old photographs. Many people — half-astonished by the devastation of a flood – have taken pictures of these events over the years.

However, even more instrumental in determining flood areas are the surveys of the elevation of the flood plains, Murphy said.

For more information check out the Town of Casco’s website, and look under ‘hot topics.’

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