Cumberland Times-News

Local News

August 27, 2013

Commissioners hear flood insurance concerns

ROMNEY, W.Va. — Concern for county residents who require unnecessary excessive flood insurance was discussed at the Hampshire County Commission meeting Tuesday.

Commission president Bob Hott said that he knows of places in the county that are required to have flood insurance but aren’t in the flood plain.

“We need to get the state involved and get these properties re-evaluated,” Hott said.

Owners who have properties designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as being in a special flood hazard area have to pay higher insurance premiums.

Even potential buyers of properties designated to be in a flood plain have an added expense on mortgage agreements.

If any portion of a property is on the FEMA special flood plain, there is a mandatory purchase requirement of flood insurance, even if the structure on the land is away from that specific area.

Charlie Baker, Hampshire County code and compliance officer, said the only way to lift that mandatory requirement is to prove through an engineering study that the insurance isn’t needed.

“If the homeowner or buyer is confident the structure is outside the flood plain, it is beneficial financially to have the study,” Baker said.

Baker said although the homeowner or buyer would be paying up-front costs, it would save more money over the life of the loan.

Changes in the flood plain began July 6, 2012, when a new law, known as the Biggert-Waters passage, took effect.

The law reset flood insurance premiums sharply upward in certain specific situations.

Baker said the county has an unknown number of homeowners paying for flood insurance that are in an area where FEMA has exaggerated the flood plain.

 “It’s up to the property owner to get engineering done. FEMA has to be proved wrong before it would change a designation,” Baker said.

According to Baker, the county commission is looking into the situation. Hopefully, he said, they can find a way to relieve the burden of the policy holders who are listed in the special flood hazard area but really aren’t.

In another matter, Sheriff John Alkire and Chief Deputy Nathan Sions spoke about emergency medical services concerns on transporting dead and decomposing bodies.

“Transporting decomposing bodies is an issue for EMS,” Sions said.

Sions said the sheriff’s office has found bodies that have been decomposing for three to four months.

“That isn’t an everyday occurrence, but it happens. It’s not unusual to find bodies that have been dead for a couple weeks. People just don’t check on people,” said Sions.

After a brief discussion, the sheriff’s office told the commission it would offer a cadaver transport vehicle to the coroners.

Other matters discussed at the commission meeting Tuesday included:

• Appointing Jason Judy as a second coroner and removing Louis Schoppert from the same position. Penny Hartman is the other coroner in the county.

• Negotiating a contract with Cabin Keepers to clean the Judicial Building, courthouse and annex.

• Appointing Ted Malcolm, who serves on the 911 board, to be the new Homeland Security Emergency Management director.

• Appointing Robbie Hott to Hampshire County Parks and Rec Board.

• Commissioner Steve Slonaker has done research on noise control and turned data over to Prosecutor Dan James for review.

The next Hampshire County Commission meeting is scheduled Sept. 10 at 9 a.m. at the Hampshire County Courthouse.

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