To the editor:
I want to compliment you for raising the issue of FEMA floodplain maps (“Our View: Outdated flood maps a disservice to residents,” Daily News of Newburyport, May 5, 2023).
I live at The Lofts at Clarks Pond and we are required to pay flood insurance because of FEMA’s imperfect maps. When first drawn, these maps were identified as “preliminary.” The costs to our association is $20,000-plus a year.
The maps were developed before The Lofts condos were completed. The maps were most likely developed based on a dam located near the R Street bridge which no longer exists.
In addition, there is a stream which flowed from northeast of Cedars Street and occasionally flooded the property. This stream has been rerouted and put underground, emptying out into the Back River as part of the condo development.
We have pictures which were taken in the late 1800s. They show Clarks Pond formed by the Back River and the former R Street dam, which shows the water up to the base of the buildings.
Today, the large R Street dam has been removed and replaced by a small, 3-foot-high dam upstream of The Lofts that creates a much-reduced Clarks Pond, which empties into the Back River. I believe the chances of having a flood in this area is zero percent.
Our association hired a certified survey company to determine if we really were in the floodplain as defined by these “preliminary maps.” They determined that the bottom of one of our elevator shafts in the basement of one buildings is less than a foot below the map’s elevation.
We appealed to FEMA with no success. Our argument was that the maps were “preliminary” and the degree that our complex could be affected was minimal.
The conditions which led to the maps being as they are is no longer justified. Of course, asking for reasonable, commonsense consideration from some of the government agencies is almost always fruitless.
We don’t believe we have any other options.
ANTHONY S. RINALDI
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