January 08, 2018

FEMA Attack on Highland Illinois

Timothy Birdnow

Highland Illinlis is a pristine slice of Germany on the Illinois prairie. A middling town about thirty miles from St. Louis, a sort of far flung ex-urb of my hometown. Founded by Swiss and settled by Germans, it is a clean, peaceful burg with gingerbread houses and a beautiful body of water called appropriately Silver Lake. The town sits a little ways from the interstate, so it is sheltered from the problems that come from people passing through.

Southern Illinois is a strange place. Many of the communities in the metro east, the Illinois side of the St. Louis suburban area, are impoverished hellholes. East St. Louis is the crown jewel of liberal urban planning, a city that more resembles Moghidishu than anything in America; there are innumerable abandoned buildings, street signs have long been stolen as have lightbulbs from street lights, and the level of violence is at a rate comparable to Honduras. In other parts of southern Illinois we have hillbilly country, with dirt poor whites living like their comrads in West Virginia or Arkansas. But Southern Illinois also is dotted with beautiful, prosperous German communities like Highland, communities that are almost entirely white (Highland is 97% white with a scant 0.2% being African American. I strongly suspect the success of Highland and her racial makeup sticks in the craw of many liberals in Illinois and in the Federal bureaucracy.
I used to visit Highland in late summer for the Kirchenfest, a school picnic at the local Catholic church. It was a lot of fun; great country food, Oomph bands, and ice cold buckets of draft beer. And this in a happy small town reminiscent of Bedford Falls from It's a Wonderful Life.

At any rate, Highland is a success in an area where many communities struggle. This is true of a number of the little German towns (such as Trenton, where my grandmother grew up). It is an embarrassment to liberal theories about integration and pluralism.

And when liberals are confronted with a refutation of their beliefs they seek to destroy the offending entity.

Which brings us to the purpose of this essay. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reclassified much of the town as in a flood plain, forcing homeowners and businesses to purchase costly flood insurance, despite the fact that these properties have NEVER been considered in the flood plain and the never had a flooding problem.

This includes much of the major commercial center of the town.

The Belleville News Democrat has the story:

FEMA is trying to impose new flood maps on the city that triple the land considered at risk of flooding. The parcels needing flood insurance will increase from 135 to 365. Highland’s median home value is more than $150,000 and flood insurance would run at least $1,000 a year on that home. Based on those numbers, the flood insurance bills for those 230 additional properties will total about $230,000 a year. Those 230 property owners will have little option but to get the insurance if they have a mortgage.

Beyond that, the heart of the city and much of Highland’s development corridor is in the proposed flood zone. Flood designations tend to chill development, so city leaders are more than a little motivated to fix this issue.

[...]

The map "revisions” contain lots of old info, including buildings that are gone. FEMA does not account for several new developments, such as the new hospital, which were required to put in their own retention ponds. The city spent $127,000 pointing out those mistakes and coming up with the rail culvert fix, which will be an additional cost of less than $100,000 if they get CSX on board.

Plus the FEMA maps fly in the face of history.

FEMA’s projections show flooding in parts of Highland that didn’t flood during the inundation on April 18, 2013, when 4.4 inches of rain fell on the city. It shows areas of flooding that didn’t happen in 1993, when FEMA’s favored scenario of the Kaskaskia River backing up local creeks should have been at its worst."

End excerpts.

I ask the question, is this intended to punish Highland for being too white and peaceful?

I think it likely, and I further believe it is an extension of the Obama era policy of seizing land from private owners based on the Navigable Rivers Act. As you may remember, the Obama EPA began seizing property where there was any standing water, claiming it was part of the watershed of navigable waterways, thus giving them authority to stop any development. It was a ridiculous policy; tire tracks that filled with water were declared navigable and thus cost the property owners their land. And a refusal to obey the orders of the EPA led to swift and terrible retribution, sometimes costing land owners millions in fines.

Donald Trump and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have ended this abusive policy, but has FEMA taken over where the EPA left off?

Radical environmentalism is at the heart of this policy.

Slate gives away the game here:

Last week, Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston. The scale of the tragedy shocked even the National Weather Service. But perhaps the most shocked set of people is the 40 to 50 percent of Houstonians who live outside Federal Emergency Management Agency’s mapped high-risk flood zones and yet still found their living rooms underwater.

FEMA’s maps represent the government’s best estimates of flood plains. They hold a lot of power: When property isn’t included on FEMA’s "magical map,” its residents aren’t required to buy flood insurance. This tends to impart a false sense of security, says Rob Moore, senior water policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "That’s why these flood maps lead to such risky behavior and have such tragic consequences.”
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But as we have seen, both last week and in years previous, FEMA’s predictions are also frequently wrong.

[...]

FEMA advisory committee, which includes climate scientists, engineers, and surveyors, recommends making two sets of maps, a short-term one like is done now and a future-oriented one that accounts for evolving flood conditions incorporating climate change projections for rising seas, erosion hazards, and expanding development. In a statement, a FEMA representative wrote:

In 2012, Congress recognized the need to evaluate our existing mapping program and the potential to include considerations for climate sciences and future conditions by establishing the Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC). The TMAC is a federal advisory committee established to review and make recommendations to FEMA specifically on these issues. We have worked to support the TMAC in their review of our mapping program and will continue to work with them as they outline reports and recommendations to improve our programs in this space.

But the agency has yet to act on those recommendations. Currently, New York City is the only place in the country that takes climate change into account when mapping flood zones, following a special program adopted after Sandy. If FEMA doesn’t find the funds and political will to reform its flood mapping system, it won’t stop the flooding. We’ll just continue to be underprepared, inundated, and overwhelmed."

End excerpt.

So, it is not that FEMA works exactly as a government agency works, clumbsily using top-down management and old data because they are not on the scene, it's that they aren't taking into account Global Warming, a thing that is not happening if one is to actually consult the data.

Please note the year Congress decided to revamp the way FEMA evaluates flood danger; at the height of the Obama rule.

But, but, but we are in the Trump era now! Well, not so much with this FEMA mapping.

According to the government website:

The Fema Technical Mapping Advisory Council has this mission:

What is it Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC)?
The Technical Mapping Advisory Council (TMAC) is a federal advisory committee, established by FEMA as required by the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12), to review and advise FEMA on matters related to the flood mapping program. The TMAC will review the new national flood mapping activities authorized under BW-12 and the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 and prepare recommendations to the FEMA Administrator. The TMAC will also produce a separate report on the impacts of climate sciences and future conditions and how they might be incorporated into the mapping program. The TMAC is comprised of representatives from federal, state,

[...]

The national flood mapping program provides flood maps to inform communities about the local flood risk and help set minimum floodplain standards so communities may build safely and resiliently. The Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) established under the program help determine the cost of National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance which helps property owners financially protect themselves against flooding.

The TMAC will review the national flood mapping activities authorized under the law and prepare recommendations to the FEMA Administrator. The TMAC will also produce a report on the impacts of climate sciences and future conditions and how they may be incorporated into the mapping program. The TMAC is comprised of representatives from federal, state, local and private sector organizations as mandated in The Biggert Waters Reform Act of 2012 and governed by the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) requirements.

And here is how they are chosen:

How are TMAC members appointed?

FEMA is working to establish the Council as a Federal advisory committee governed under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). After soliciting nominations through various professional organizations and a public submission process, published in the Federal Register , the FEMA Administrator conducted a rigorous nominee evaluation process. The Administrator selected the most qualified candidates submitted in each membership category, ensuring that, together, the nominees provided a balance of geographically-diverse professional opinions from a mix of State, local, and private sector organizations. Following a rigorous vetting process, FEMA announced the appointment of members in July 2014. TMAC members serve either one to two years who have"

End excerpts.

So these policy changes are quite recent, and Obama more than likely appointed the committee members who control the way these decisions are made.

Look, the Deep State is embedded in all of our bureaucracies, and most especially into ones dealing with environmental aspects. Environmentalism is the new home of communists, who realized the jig was up for their worldview when the U.S.S.R. fell. It should be pointed out that U.N. Agenda 21/30 is heavily invested in promoting racial "environmental justice" and the success of a town like Highland is a black eye to much of the agenda of these internationalists.

If you ask me, this is a way to punish the good people of Highland. It is disgraceful, and Trump needs to reform FEMA as much as anything else.

Posted by: Timothy Birdnow at 12:49 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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