FEMA rules leave several with questions

Home owners encouraged to contact engineering department

Local residents with questions about notices they received by mail regarding flood damage to their homes are encouraged to contact the engineering department for clarification, Director of Engineering/Floodplain Administrator Micah Siemers said this week.

Siemers said some people mistakenly received notices last week that their property had been “substantially damaged” as a result of recent flooding in several Bartlesville neighborhoods. FEMA requires that structures that are “substantially damaged” — meaning the cost of the damage to the structure is 50 percent or more of the property’s value — be brought up to modern flood standards before re-occupation.

Siemers said approximately 28 people received the letters, but only nine actually sustained substantial damage to their property. The remaining 19 properties received damage less than the 50 percent threshold to be considered substantially damaged.

“Unfortunately, some people received these letters by mistake,” he said. “We sent out letters correcting the information the following Monday, but I’m sure there is some confusion given the conflicting information. I wish there was a more straight-forward way to communicate with these home owners but without phone numbers, the letters appear to our best option.”

Property owners whose homes were inspected and do fall under FEMA’s “substantially damaged” rule are entitled to appeal the finding, Siemers said.

“City inspectors assess property value based on county records; however, property owners may contest this cost by having an actual market value appraisal done on their property. Hopefully, that number is higher than the county’s assessed value,” he said. “The other thing they can do is have actual estimates done for their repairs. If they have a contractor give them a reasonable price for the construction and that price is lower than 50 percent of the value, they can use those costs in the appeal process.”

For more information contact the engineering department at 918.338.4251.