Pacific Northwest
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WA - FEMA threat draws rebuke from county

Whidbey Island County commissioners are “aghast” at recent actions taken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that could affect local shoreline property owners.

During a work session Wednesday, commissioners and planning staff discussed a draft letter to the agency that questions its decision to notify shoreline property owners that Island County wasn’t in compliance with a 1968 law and so flood insurance customers would need to pay a $50 “probation surcharge” on their premiums if the issue wasn’t resolved by the end of March.

If more steps weren’t taken to resolve the issue, the agency said the county could be suspended from the National Flood Insurance Program, and thus its residents wouldn’t be eligible for federally backed flood insurance.

Island County staff were unaware this letter would be sent or that a March deadline was imposed.

There are 11 properties that don’t meet the regulations, which is why Island County is considered out of compliance, according to Planning Director Hiller West.

West’s staff as well as the county prosecutor’s office have been in the process of trying to contact these 11 property owners, he told the commissioners on Wednesday.

Commissioners said they appreciated the effort, but rebuked the idea of the remaining flood insurance holders in the county being punished because of a handful of non-compliant property owners.

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