Proposal could cut funding to flood mapping programs

PENDER COUNTY -- State legislators are trying to reach a compromise regarding the state budget. One possibility would cut funding for flood mapping programs. The proposal reduces the number of people working to create flood zone maps in North Carolina. Critics say the move could put the flood zone mapping project in jeopardy. Pender County resident Mary Esmarian lives in a flood-prone area. She had eight inches of water inside her home after Tropical Storm Ernesto. Esmarian said, "Pretty much we get flooded in on each side of our house. To the left and right of my house gets flooded really bad." But she says her property is not yet in a designated flood zone, which is why she is relying on state officials to create and update the state's flood plain maps. The task of creating the maps began after Hurricane Floyd in 1999. They are expected to be complete by 2009. After that, the maps will need constant updating, which will be done by a team of state employees and private contractors. Now the Senate and House want to reduce the number of people on that team. Some fear the accuracy of the maps could be put in jeopardy. "We do need more help. We need more assistance," Esmarian said. The proposed budget cut would save nearly $700,000 over the next two fiscal years. Rep. Alice Bordsen of Alamance County, who is on the committee debating the budget cut, said it is crucial the flood plain maps be maintained. She also said, because of budget constraints, lawmakers do not want to commit more money or people to the project than absolutely necessary.

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