Flood Plan

By: Rachel DePompa
By: Rachel DePompa

The Rockingham County board of supervisors approved the plan Wednesday night.

There have been 13 federally declared disasters in the Valley in the past three decades eight were flooding.

And the federal emergency management agency is now requiring counties to have plans like this if they want to see any more money for these types of disasters.

In 1996 the valley was pummeled by more than 30 inches of snow. It shut down many valley towns and cities, but the worst came when the snow melted. There was wide spread flooding.

“The Valley is almost like a soup bowl. We're sitting at the bottom of two mountains and the waters run out of the mountains and they have to come somewhere,” Robert Symons the Rockingham County fire chief.

Time and again flooding has been the Valley's biggest natural disaster. The flood in 1996 caused $23 million in damages in Rockingham County alone.

“We've had 10-20 disasters since 1969 and it might be hard to consider now that we're in the middle of a drought, but the time to plan is when there isn't a catastrophe in front of us,” says Patrick Coffield, Augusta County Administrator.

The Central Shenandoah Valley's plan could be the first in the state to be approved by FEMA.

The plan goes over the history of flooding in the area, lists improvements, and ways the valley can reduce the effects of flooding in the future.

“Some of the other things you can do is build flood walls, take your utilities that are in the basement and put them up higher than the flood level,” says Symons.

“We have 2,000 structures that are in flood plains which are of concern to us. We have 83 miles of road way in the flood plain and we have approximately 253 structures which are insured,” says Coffield.

Every local government in the country must have a plan in place by Nov. 1, 2003 if they want to be eligible for flood monies in the future.

Waynesboro was the first to okay the plan. Staunton may vote on it Thursday night.
Augusta County will take its vote on June 26.

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