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FEMA issues updated flood hazard map

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The Federal Emergency Management Administration has released proposed flood hazard determination maps for communities in Pierce County. The map for Fife remains largely unchanged from the current map, which is based on determinations issued almost 30 years ago.

Because Fife sits along a maritime waterway and through the path of the Puyallup River and its tributaries, much of the city is listed as areas for future study. There is no timeline of when that future will come, however.

Property owners are advised to review these changes to see if the base flood elevation of their property has changed. The updated maps are expected to go into effect in the late spring of 2016. The release of the updated map starts the clock on a 90-day window for appeals or corrections. But largely, only two areas of Fife have been added to the 100-year flood map, which denotes the likelihood of flooding at one percent during any given year. About 90 percent of Fife lies outside of FEMA’s floodplain.

The two areas in Fife that are include an area around Valley Avenue and Freeman and another area with farmland and park space just off Interstate 5 and 70th Avenue. Both areas are largely owned by the city, which lowers impacts to private property owners.

“It’s not going to affect that many people,” Acting Building Official and Fire Marshal Perry Fegley said.

The latest map comes after previous public review efforts in 2007 and 2009 as well as a roster of open houses this spring.

These maps are used by property owners and federal, state and local agencies to determine development standards on properties within flood hazard areas of the county. Insurance companies use the maps to determine flood insurance rates.

The county’s two-year-old Flood Control Zone District will spend more than $5 million this year on water-control projects around the county, with special attention to the Puyallup River value because of its location and population density. Studies put the cost of a major flood at about $725 millions in outright damage and economic loss.

Major flooding along the Puyallup River has led to 15 presidentially declared disasters in Pierce County since 1962.