July 27, 1999
Board of Tax Appeals
910 5th Ave. SE
P.O. Box 40915
Olympia, WA 98504-0915
Subject: - Docket No. 54030 and 54031
Thank you for this hearing opportunity.
I want to also thank the Grays Harbor County Assessor for sending me all the changed property values, new land comparables and all the new home comparables.
Unfortunately the new materials came too late for me to research. Having spent 11 of the last 14 days at hospitals, clinics and doctor offices I am ill prepared and I offer my apology for this. I didn't have ready access to the same data resources and support staff that allowed the Grays Harbor County Assessor to prepare their material. Had the law permitted it, I would have asked for this hearing to be rescheduled. In addition to the materials submitted to the Grays Harbor Board of Equalization, and my letter to you on July 12, I am submitting this letter, the attached map, a summary of comparables and examples of mitigation grants not available to Grays Harbor victims of the 1996 flood.
Since my letter to you on July 12, 1999 dealing with homes:
Since my letter to you on July 12, 1999 dealing with land:
Key facts about our subject property:
None of the comparables submitted by the Grays Harbor County Assessor Office has these characteristics. All real estate comparables submitted by the Grays Harbor County Assessor Office have land superior to the subject property. None of the 15 real estate comparables is confined by the confluence of the Black River, the Black River Bridge and the Chehalis River. None of the 15 real estate comparables has river frontage.
Again, the subject property has had flood waters in the house on two occasions. We have suffered multiple significant losses. We had to protect ourselves without government aid or federal mitigation grants (see attachments). I am not alone in my concern about ever-increasing, inappropriate flood plain use and values. According to others this is important in the world of today.
I quote from: Jo Ann Howard, Administrator, Federal Insurance Administration when she spoke on "FEMA: Repetitive Flood Losses"
"It's been heartbreaking for me as Federal Insurance Administrator to see time and time again the faces of flood victims overwhelmed by their losses. It is at those times that all of us need to offer our hands to help and our prayers to heal. But whenever we do the tough work of recovery, we should never offer flood victims false hope or empty promises. That's why I'm so proud of the efforts of my agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)--and that effort is the work of many hands--to reverse the costly cycle of damage/repair/damage and to help build disaster-resistant communities across America. One important part of that effort is our strategy to reduce the number of buildings in the nation that have suffered multiple flood losses .
There are about 40,000 buildings across the country currently insured under the National Flood Insurance Program that have been flooded on more than one occasion and that have received flood insurance claims payments of $1000 or more for each loss. The cost of these multiple loss properties over the years to the National Flood Insurance Fund has been astonishing-- $1.8 billion. Although the National Flood Insurance Program has, since 1986, been self-supporting, the financial solvency of the Fund requires that we take strong and sensible measures to correct the problem of multiple flood losses. For we really don't do anyone any favors by continuing poor policy .
Under the leadership of Director James Lee Witt, we at FEMA are taking steps to correct the problem of repetitive flood loss properties insured under the NFIP . The vision that we have for the National Flood Insurance Program for the next century is many more families out of harm's way, thanks to mitigation efforts such as relocation or elevation of their properties, and far fewer repetitive loss properties on our books."
I quote from an article, "Seeking an End to a Flood of Claims", by Joby Warrick , published by National Wildlife:
"Last summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke with decades of flood-fighting tradition by announcing plans to promote buyouts and wetlands restoration . The Corps' $325 million "Challenge 21 " proposal advocates an environmental alternative to the standard approach of containing nature with concrete and steel.
In November, James L. Witt, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), announced a strategy to save $1 billion in flood payments over 10 years through accelerated buyouts of properties with multiple disaster claims. "It's time to quit wasting money and rebuilding in high-risk areas," Witt says. "If someone is going to build and live in a high-risk area, they ought to pay the price.""
At the Western Governors' Association, December, 1997, in "An Action Plan for Reducing Flood Risk in the West" it was stated:
"Federal, state, and local governments have already dedicated significant resources to address flood risk reduction. The June 1994 report completed after the 1993 Midwest flooding on the upper Mississippi River Basin, Sharing the Challenge: Floodplain Management into the 21st Century, outlines a comprehensive vision for reducing future flood risks and costs. The governors share a commitment to many of the goals in the report. In particular:
Refrain from putting people and property at risk by avoiding development in floodplain areas when other alternatives are available, and allow development only when it can be appropriately protected.
Reduce the vulnerability to existing urban areas, industry and agriculture, when such reduction is justified, economically sound and reasonable.
Move those currently at risk from the floodplain, as appropriate ."
At some personal risk I took advantage of an opportunity in July to speak at a public hearing. The hearing dealt with the Washington State Shoreline Master Program. According to the local newspaper I was the only one, in an audience of 1200, to speak out in support of new guidelines for the protection of our shorelines. Had our Grays Harbor Shoreline Program been implemented correctly this house would never have been built, it would not have been identified as "flood proofed", it would not have been resold to me, it would not have flooded twice and we would not be having this hearing today.
It is my hope that when this hearing has concluded and you have had the time to review the information you will reach these conclusions
Thank you for your time and interest. I will be happy to guide you through my earlier submission and my submission to the Grays Harbor Board of Equalization.
Subject home is built within 50 feet of Black River and is in the confluence of the Black River, Black River Bridge and Chehalis River and is sandwiched up against the railroad tracks and the forest land to the north and State Highway 12 to the south. The property has over 1,100 feet of river frontage. The property has been severely flooded two times (1990 and 1996). the 1996 destroyed 2/3 mile of fencing, 1/3 mile of road, and severely damaged the home and other improvements. The subject property experienced 9 (nine) flood events in the 1998-99 flood season which prevented the owners from leaving by car or entering by car. All of this is public record and must be disclosed to a purchaser willing, but not obliged, to buy.
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