Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Hundreds of people who live near Onondaga Creek in Syracuse are waiting to find out if the city can convince FEMA to amend new flood maps.
The agency’s proposed maps would force several hundred people to buy flood insurance who have never had to before. The city met Tuesday with FEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers to find out how most, if not all, of the newly included homes could be left off the new flood maps.
There are several options on the table, each of which will come at a cost. One of the options would be removing some old railroad bridges in Armory Square, but the fear is that if the creek ever rose high enough the lowest bridge would keep the water from going downstream and therefore back up the creek, creating flooding in the Kirk Park area.
“We’ve done a number of things that can chip away at the edges of that, but the big home run hit would be to dredge the creek and remove the silt that’s choking it,” said City Operations Director, Tim Carroll.
Over the years, that silt has built up to the point where FEMA says more area is at risk if Onondaga Creek ever sees the dreaded hundred year flood. Carroll says the last time it spilled its banks and flooded the Kirk Park are was back in 1974.
Flood insurance for people with mortgages and new to the flood map area could range anywhere from a few hundred dollars per year to over a thousand. The city wants to know from the Army Corps of Engineers what the cost of dredging would be for the part of Onondaga Creek in question, so people could be removed from the map.
“They're going to run those numbers and say if you spend that money you're going to shrink your area that much more, so we'll have a better idea as a community in these tough economic times whether that's money we should spend,” Carroll said.
The cost would be $250,000 to $500,000 to remove the unused bridges. FEMA could issue final flood maps as early as the fall.