Rangely board pushes back on FEMA’s flood plain classifications

RANGELY | A work session took place before the town board meeting to discuss wastewater and storm water. A few years ago, The Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) was brought in to reassess the flood plains around Rangely to see if some of the areas could be reclassified as a non-flood plain.
FEMA has since given varying reasons on why some of the areas should be classified as flood plains. One particular reason given regards berms. A berm is a flat strip of land, raised bank or terrace bordering a river or canal. The berms FEMA refers to have not been certified in the way they were constructed. To have the berms checked to see if they can be certified is potentially very expensive, however, if they are certified, that would help with the flood plain classification.
Additionally, culverts—passages for water under roads and other areas—need to be cleaned out, which will also help with FEMA classification. Larger culverts might need to be constructed under the main crossing areas.
Town Planner Jocelyn Mullen explained that if the way FEMA has the flood plains classified right now passes, some residents would need to get flood insurance who never needed it before. Mullen and Don Reed brought someone in to challenge the way FEMA classified areas. Reportedly, his model could save a lot of time and money. If his model is approved, it’s expected will benefit Rangely and solve some of the issues.
The cost-effectiveness of some of the potential changes was also discussed. According to Mullen and Reed, it is going to take a combined effort to clean out the culverts, which haven’t been touched in years. They have been working together with the town to get a plan in action for when the time comes to get started on the cleaning. Hiring a contractor to work on the culverts was discussed, along with a plan to put the culverts on an annual maintenance plan. Cleaning the culverts won’t start until after the snow melts. Until that time, the water department will continue to push back on some of the other issues FEMA has and work toward getting plans into place.
During the town board meeting a donation for the CNCC Foundation Dinner fundraiser was approved. The trustees discussed grant applications, one for an Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, was approved for continuing Main Street improvements. Another grant application to be submitted is for an administrative grant for engineering design improvements to the wastewater treatment plant and collection system. That grant, if awarded, is expected to help with the changes the water department is proposing|

By BRITTNY CAMPOS | Special to the Herald Times