Confusion, anger and frustration filled the Multi-Purpose Events Center Thursday night as around 100 area flood victims tried to get answers from federal and local officials from Wichita County, the city of Wichita Falls, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Many county flood victims are fuming because of the recent revelation that they must get floodplain permits before they can rebuild or renovate their homes. The permits are required as part of the little known Regulations for Floodplain Management for Wichita County.
The county adopted the federal guidelines in 1982 so that Wichita County residents could be eligible for flood insurance, Wichita County Judge Woody Gossom explained.
According to the guidelines, homes that were damaged in the flood must now be inspected using a 16-point FEMA system, he said.
Once the home is inspected from foundation to roof, the system comes up with a percentage figure.
If a home is found to be more than 50 percent damaged, based on the tax valuation, and if the home lies below the flood plain, homeowners will be required to raise the home’s foundation to one foot above the flood plain.
But this is a process that came as a complete shock to many homeowners.
One man complained that it would be cost-prohibitive to raise his 1,900-square-foot horseshoe-shaped home now. “It’ll be tremendously expensive to try to raise the house,” he said. “What it means is our flood insurance is worthless because we can’t afford to do this.”
The federal government would pay 75 percent of the cost, with the county/city entity picking up the rest of the tab, to purchase the property from residents and then demolish the damaged structures.
By Lara K. Richards, Times Record News