Two city council members in Cincinnati, Ohio, say they want to know more about the decision to decertify a flood levee, which forced hundreds of property owners in Cincinnati to buy flood insurance.
Councilman Charlie Winburn said he will launch an inquiry into why elected officials weren’t told about an action that created negative consequences for residents.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reported recently that engineering studies indicated that the 5-mile levee surrounding the Lunken Airport no longer met federal flood standards. City officials have said they didn’t have the money, estimated at $20 million to $100 million, to make improvements needed to meet standards.
Property owners in the levee area with a federally backed mortgage had to purchase flood insurance, adding hundreds of dollars to some annual insurance bills.
“How would you like to see your insurance double because of action or inaction of a municipality that did not inform its elected leaders of the action?” Winburn asked.
The Lunken levee decision came after engineering studies indicated the levee was a foot or two short of federal standards. Federal regulators have been requiring local governments in recent years to recertify their levees as part of a flood-zone map modernization program.
Councilwoman Amy Murray said she’s been hearing from frustrated constituents since an Enquirer report drew attention to the situation.
“I know people are frustrated by this, and I am interested in getting answers so I have the information for them,” she said. “It might be that the city had good reasons for what they did, but … there are some questions that need answers.”
Assistant City Engineer Amit Ghosh said the city unsuccessfully applied repeatedly for federal funding help. He said the city is committed to maintaining the levee at current levels and that should provide protection from all but the most severe flooding.