By RYAN SCOTT OTTNEY
PDT Staff Writer
NEW BOSTON — Village and city officials were encouraged after a meeting with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Thursday to discuss the process to avoid de-accrediting their floodwall. Also attending the meeting were representatives from the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers, Soil and Water Conservation Service, and the Scioto County Emergency Management Agency.
“It’s definitely not a fast track to de-certify us, and I believe the Corps. of Engineers and FEMA are very satisfied with our progress,” said Portsmouth Wastewater Director Richard Duncan.
The city and village can avoid having their floodwall de-accreditted as long as they make the necessary repairs and upgrades before FEMA completes the de-accrediting process. New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton said it could take a year or more for FEMA to complete the process, and even then the city and village will still have 14 to 18 more months to finish their repairs before the new flood maps are drawn. The entire process, he said, could take more than two years for FEMA.
Both Hamilton and Duncan said their respective projects will be finished well ahead of FEMA.
“They (FEMA) will go through all their systems which are not yet certified, which are in the hundreds. The first ones they will start the process on are the ones who really haven’t done anything or ones that have major problems. They told us we would be pretty low on their list as far as beginning their process to de-certify us,” Duncan said.
Engineers are still reviewing the city floodwall, but Duncan said things are looking very good for the city.
“Some of the items we thought might be a problem, we’ve already eliminated some of those. Our consultant just did some soil boarings on Wednesday and also yesterday to finish the process of confirming the soil conditions in the area we were concerned about. Everything looks very positive,” he said.
This is the second consultant the city has hired to examine their floodwall. The first, Howerton Engineering of Portsmouth, returned results that suggested a serious underseepage problem.
“As the river comes up, there’s pressure from the river elevation to force its way under the levee and come up on the bottom on the land-side of the levee. When the levee was built, they designed for that to make sure there was enough of the right types of soil on each side of the levee to keep that from happening. So part of the certification process — that New Boston also has to do — is to do core-drilling on each side of the levee and also on the levee itself to verify what materials are there,” Duncan explained.
Howerton’s study found a one-mile area of the levee where underseepage was a problem, and Duncan said it would have cost the city $3 million to repair. Before spending that much on repairs, the city hired AMEC engineering consultants from Columbus to provide a second opinion.
“The results of the re-evaluation look very promising. I can’t say anything official until I get the report (within 30 to 60 days),” Duncan said.
Overall both the city and village feel that the meeting with FEMA went very well on Thursday.
“They said we made a complete 180. They were afraid of coming down here and finding nothing done, but they were real happy with all the progress we’ve made,” Hamilton said.
One of the requirements FEMA has asked of the village is to create a list of 30 local volunteers who would be ready and willing to help in the event of an emergency. Anyone interested in adding their name to that list can contact Hamilton at the New Boston Community Center on Rhodes Avenue, or call 740-456-4106.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 235, or email@example.com.