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Residents voice frustration over flood insurance rates

  • TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Resident Andrew Jordan asks borough council how they plan to help residents who are affected by high flood insurance costs.
    TERRY AHNER/TIMES NEWS Resident Andrew Jordan asks borough council how they plan to help residents who are affected by high flood insurance costs.
Published July 26. 2014 09:00AM

After years of frustration, a group of Palmerton residents are at their tipping point over flood insurance costs.

So much so that a crowd of about 35 residents came out to voice their displeasure with the situation before borough council on Thursday.

On hand to attempt to address some of their concerns were William F. Hanley, Senior Economic Development Specialist, who attended on behalf of 17th District Rep. Matt Cartwright, and Timm Berger, district office manager for state Rep. Doyle Heffley (R-Carbon).

The majority of residents on hand reside primarily along the first half of the 400 block of Franklin Avenue, east of Park Creek. The area is in an A 01 floodplain the most severe plain that exists under the Federal Emergency Management Agency and residents say they are forced to pay an astronomical amount of money for their flood insurance.

As defined by FEMA, a floodplain is any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source.

Resident Raberta Hans, of 435 Franklin Ave., asked borough Manager Rodger Danielson if he met with FEMA.

Danielson said he passed the information Hans shared with council at last month's session along to an emergency management director from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Hans said their flood plain is more severe than that of most of the homes that border the Aquashicola Creek, and added there has never been a flood claim related to Park Creek in the 45 years that FEMA has existed.

Resident Andrew Jordan, who lives at 440 Franklin Ave., asked if the borough has any contingency plan in the event FEMA chooses not to change their floodplain designation.

Resident Brian Umstead, who owns the home at 424 Franklin Ave., was clearly fed up with the situation.

"I've lived here my whole life, but it's (Park Creek) never flooded," Umstead said. "I'm going to be stuck with this property for the rest of my life."

Hanley then addressed the audience, at which time he said he would like to see FEMA come and meet with residents affected by the issue.

Jordan then asked council what the borough was planning to do to help the residents.

"I've lived on Franklin my whole life. We've never had flooding," he said. "I'd like to see the borough do something to help us."

However, Councilman Kris Hoffner said there isn't anything the borough can do until they hear back from FEMA.

At that point, Umstead exclaimed, "Somebody's gotta light a fire under FEMA's butt."

Council President Terry Costenbader then asked both Hanley and Berger, between their two offices, whether they could put something together to have FEMA meet with the residents.

Hans was point-blank about her situation, and said, "I'm at the end of my rope with what I can afford financially."

At last month's council meeting, it was stated the last time a re-evaluation of neighboring Park Creek was conducted was sometime in the early 2000s.

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