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FEMA Says ‘Yes’ to Flood Plain Fix, But ‘No’ to Funding

By Jann Wiswall

There’s good news and bad news regarding efforts to revise the town and village of Ellicottville’s flood plain maps.

The good news is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agrees that the official maps must be revised. The bad news is that FEMA says it doesn’t have funding to do the revisions.

This news comes after the town and village, as well as Ellicott Development and Sprague Development, have worked diligently with a civil engineering consultant, Tim Lavocat, for more than a year to collect data proving that existing flood plain maps for areas impacted by Great Valley Creek, Elk Creek and Holiday Valley Creek are out of date. The carefully calculated revisions were dutifully submitted to FEMA. Comments between the agency and the Ellicottville team have been exchanged and all requested revisions have been made per FEMA.

In a recent letter to Ellicottville Town Supervisor John Burrell, FEMA stated that, after review, the agency agrees with the requested revisions and concludes that a Physical Map Revision (PMR) by the agency should be made.

However, the letter also states that “due to funding constraints, FEMA is not able to initiate the PMR at this time.”

Without the PMR, no action can be taken by town and village residents and property owners to request reconsideration of their flood insurance policy rates.

According to Ellicottville Town Engineer Mark Alianello, Lavocat has run into this funding issue before, “He told us this happens all the time, so it’s not a surprise.”

The next course of action, Alianello said, will be to “enlist the help of our congressional contingent to get the money loosened up to do the PMR process.”

To that end, the town, village and both developers are preparing letters to New York Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, as well as Congressman Tom Reed requesting their support. Burrell says that he and his counterparts will follow up with phone calls to the legislators’ offices.

Alianello thinks “we’ll get a quick response. Hopefully it will all be resolved within a couple of months.”

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