Southwestern Illinois Levees
9:55 am
Fri March 11, 2011

FEMA shifts course on flood map modeling

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is giving a reprieve to southwestern Illinois and other U.S. areas guarded by levees it was to have deemed functionally useless.

FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate told federal lawmakers Thursday that the agency would hold off on decertifying 64 miles of earthen levees protecting St. Louis' Illinois suburbs.

Fugate says the agency would stop using a questioned assessment technique and turn to a more nuanced measure of the actual protection the levees provide.

Overseers of the levees in southwestern Illinois had worried that decertification of those barriers would force thousands of property owners to buy mandatory and perhaps expensive flood insurance. Now, they say FEMA's second look buys them more time to fix up their levees before the new maps come out.