Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Editorials

April 4, 2014

Flood mitigation: Mercer project must continue

— — Flooding is nothing new to families living in southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia. We’ve endured several significant flooding events over the years, including the devastating floods of 2001, 2002 and 2003. That’s why it is important for flood mitigation projects across the region to continue.

One such project is continuing in Mercer County — and that’s important. The Mercer County Commission is now advertising for contractors to help with the removal of asbestos from a structure on Kellysville Road. A second house and a mobile home are also scheduled for demolition as part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency flood mitigation program, according to County Coordinator Vicky Reed.

The three structures in question have been flooded several times. And the flood mitigation program allows the county to acquire the properties if the homeowners chose to participate.

As part of the program, people whose homes have been flooded out can come to the Mercer County Courthouse and fill out applications for participation in the flood mitigation project. FEMA officials then review their cases and check on county maps to see whether the properties are in a flood zone. The program has been in operation since the 1990s.

“Over the years, we’ve had several,” Reed said of the flooded out homes purchased by the FEMA program. “We have had approximately a dozen over the years since the late 1990s.”

New structures cannot be built in the flood zone after the structures in question have been demolished. The neighbors at the Kellysville Road properties have asked if they can use the land for a garden, according to Mercer County Commission President Mike Vinciguerra. These types of developments are possible since a flood would not impact them.

The sites are monitored after a home is torn down to make sure nobody is building anything new along the flood zone.

“We have to go back and make sure nobody’s trying to put another (home) on it,” Vinciguerra  says. “We double check all of our spots to make sure nobody’s building on it,”

Unfortunately, our region is flood prone. And now that spring is here, so is flood season. All property owners should be aware of their surroundings, and flood prone creeks and rivers.

When a structure has sustained repeated flooding, it is important for the homeowners to be relocated to higher ground.

That’s why we are glad to see that the local flood mitigation program is continuing in Mercer County.

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