Poinsett JPs pass flood insurance ordinance

Thursday, January 20, 2011

One Poinsett County justice of the peace insisted in a recent meeting it would be a burden on people to extend the county's association with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and its Flood Damage Prevention Program, but other county officials said it would be a bigger burden for the county if the action wasn't taken.

Poinsett County Judge Charles Nix said the FEMA program is important, noting, " Anyone who tries to get a federally-backed loan wouldn't be able to if we don't pass this act. We are just authorizing it for the county to be part of this program, so we meet the county government's requirement. If you want to build a house, you wouldn't be able to receive a federally-backed loan if we don't pass. This is just continuing what is already in effect. It is up to the loan officers at the banks if they want to require you to purchase flood insurance."

Frank Kraft, Poinsett County's office of emergency management coordinator, said those living in Poinsett County are "not going to be required to purchase flood insurance tomorrow anymore than you would have two days ago" with passage of the measure.

Nix noted that if building a new property, building up the land could bring the builder outside the flood zone.

"It will not be a problem for new builders if they survey the property and build up the land," he said. "Other counties have tried voting against this ordinance. They were turned down for loans and loans were called in. Those counties had to go back and pass the ordinance."

The quorum court passed the ordinance by a vote of 7-2, with Larry Steakley and Brent Henderson voting against it. Steakley expressed his feelings of anxiety regarding the issue, saying he worries it would place a burdin on residents to buy flood insurance even if they aren't in areas that flood.

Nix said the county cannot control what loan officers do.

Johnny Johnson voted for the ordinance, saying it is a "necessary evil" because of the stipulation that federally-back loans cannot be obtained without the county government's backing of the ordinance.

"I may not like it, but it is a necessary evil," Johnson said.

Harold Blackwood was not happy about being listed as the sponsor of the ordinance.

"I would like to be notified in advance before my name is put on an ordinance as a sponsor," he said.

Nix argued that Blackwood had his packet which contained the ordinance and had his name as the sponsor.

"You have had plenty of time to object to this before now," the county judge said.

The court also passed an ordinance to allow purchases from Little River Glass Company, in which JP Jerry Carter has an interest.

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