Plano church in remapped floodplain could lose insurance

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by STEVE STOLER

WFAA

Posted on November 29, 2012 at 6:42 PM

PLANO -- Hundreds of people in Collin County may soon have a difficult time getting home insurance.

It's the result of new maps drawn up by the federal government. Those maps determine the size of flood plains along creeks.

All across the county, houses, businesses and even churches that were never in the flood plain now are in the middle of it.

St. Andrew Methodist Church in Plano is one of them. White Rock Creek runs through the heart of the church property.

According to FEMA, the flood plain along these creek rose five feet. The church buildings were never in the flood plain before, but they are now.

"We'd have to have a Noah-like flood for that to happen," said Steve Robertston, St. Andrew Executive Pastor.

Robertson is talking in biblical terms about a notice Plano sent to 340 home and business owners. All of them are in the 100-year flood plain along five different creeks.

"We have a $22 million investment and a building built nine years ago, that at that time, was at least four feet above the floodplain level," Robertson said.

Church officials showed us photos taken after torrential rains. They told us the creek rarely has exceeded its banks higher than the photos show -- well below the church.

"So we're concerned that the five-foot elevation rise is extreme," the pastor said.

If the church is in the floodplain, insurance could skyrocket. That is, if they were allowed to get insurance at all.

"Just because you haven't had a flood, and you've lived there for 30 years, doesn't mean it will never happen," said Jerry Cosgrove, Plano’s Floodplain Coordinator. Cosgrove said Plano will investigate whether FEMA's floodplain changes at the church are appropriate.

"It could have a negative impact on them," Cosgrove said. "But as of right now, we don't know the final result of our investigation."

St. Andrew and Plano homeowners who live along the creeks have until Dec. 20 to appeal. The city will review those appeals and send them to FEMA. FEMA will then make adjustments to the floodplain maps. That process could take at least a year.

FEMA officials say the increase in the flood plain height was necessary. They say with all the development around Plano, ground that once absorbed water is now concrete parking lots, businesses and homes.

Church officials say their next step is talking with their congressman, Plano's Sam Johnson.

E-mail sstoler@wfaa.com

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