JOPLIN, Mo. —
Proposed new flood plain maps for Joplin and the surrounding area have put more properties in flood zones.
A 90-day comment and appeal period on the maps has opened. Any input will be used to complete the maps, which will become official in January. Government officials are recommending that property owners view the maps to see if their properties are affected.
Dan Johnson, an engineer in Joplin’s Public Works Department and the flood plain manager, said that updated technology has increased the accuracy of the maps.
“That has added some new features,” he said. “They have mapped some streams that were previously unmapped, so some people are now in a flood plain who weren’t on the old maps. Or they were already in a flood plain but they may not have known it, because now the plain they were in has been mapped.”
He said that the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization, the area’s metropolitan planning organization, had paid for electronic topographical maps with one-foot contours to be done in 2003. “That data works well with new software systems that can use that data to correct the maps and place the stormwater and flood plain models more accurately on the map. That reduces the errors in past maps and can make them much more accurate.”
Residents may still spot some errors that need to be corrected, Johnson said, such as having a structure that shows in the flood plain that actually is on a cliff or is well elevated over the flooding zone.
The maps, overall though, are more accurate than past versions that were drawings overlaid on aerial photos.
“The whole program is all about reducing flood losses to the public,” Johnson said.
He said it is recommended that people who find their structures in the flood plain buy flood insurance. It also could affect the property values.
“We don’t tell people they can’t build in the flood plain,” he said. “If you’re in the flood plain, you have to take steps to assure your house won’t flood, and you have to take steps to assure your neighbor’s house won’t flood or flood worse because of your flood-prevention methods.”
Johnson said cities including Carl Junction, Webb City and Carthage have new maps as well as the county as a whole. He suggests that property owners go to their local city hall or the county courthouse to view the maps or look at them on the Internet to determine if their property is affected. Residents may make comments at that time or cite corrections that need to be made, he said.
In Joplin, there could be locations where the May 22 tornado destroyed houses or buildings that will have to be rebuilt differently to try to avert flooding, Johnson said.
Joplin residents may go to the public works department offices on the fourth floor of City Hall, 602 S. Main St., to view the maps, and register comments or corrections.