This letter was sent to every legislator and representative in our district
October 16, 1996
The Honorable <**FIRSTNAME**> <**LNAME**>
<**CITY**>, <**STATE**>

Dear <**LNAME**>,

We have been told that 26,000 homes were damaged in the February floods. Mitigation assistance is available for many who live in incorporated areas. We live rurally and we need your help finding grants, financial assistance or disaster legislation which can help rural residents mitigate flood damage.

In 1988 we bought a 6 year old $200,000 home in rural eastern Grays Harbor County. The 26 acre farm was in the 100 year flood plain. At the time of purchase we reviewed the building permit and the permit indicated the home had been flood proofed. Since the home was permitted, and the previous owner (with approval of the county planning department) had legally subdivided it into 3 additional building sites, we felt safe in buying it.

In 1990 we experienced a 100 year flood, bringing 2 inches of water into the house. Apparently the flood proofing didn't work! Our total losses were in excess of $6,000. In 1996 we had another 100 year flood. This time 2 feet of water literally wiped out the first floor. We went over 2 months without heat, or a vehicle of our own. Our costs so far are over $25,000. In 1990 the FEMA FIP paid $1,736 in covering losses. In 1996 FEMA FIP paid $17,180. The FEMA FIP covered only structural damage, no personal losses were covered. This year we had to borrow $25,000 from SBA to cover uninsured losses other than damages to our three large agricultural buildings. (This loan is a 2nd mortgage. We are retired and this is a financial cost we could never have anticipated.) As you know our farm buildings, livestock and equipment are not covered under any program.

We are now trying to mitigate flood damage. For months we have talked to Grays Harbor Emergency Planning, SBA, FEMA. We have tried to get Grays Harbor to include our mitigation as part as of a county grant application to the state for emergency mitigation funds, which Thurston County and the city of Chehalis have done. Months later we still have had no success. FEMA, SBA and the state have not responded to our request for individual mitigation assistance.

On our own we have obtained two mitigation estimates. One solution destroys the first floor (of our 2 story home) and replaces it with a new cement wall open to the flood waters - this costs $30,000 and does not include plumbing, septic repairs, electrical or building a new access to the 2nd floor. This mitigation wipes out over half the value of the home. (We are told this home cannot be elevated or moved because of the method of construction.)

The second estimate involves a new technology flood wall surrounding the house at a 6 foot distance. This protects the entire home investment but will cost approximately $43,000. The material uses high-tech plastic and sand and is designed here in Washington.

Neither estimate is of use to us without one of the following: 1) low cost refinancing of the mortgage and mitigation costs, 2) FEMA grant to offset mitigation (partially or 100%), or 3) access to our retirement savings without payment of income tax and/or penalties. An exemption from state sales tax for mitigation costs (sales tax will add $3,200 to our costs) is needed.

With all the recent disaster legislation and rule making are there any programs, decisions or policies that we can pursue to help address our situation? We simply can't wait for a rural municipality to decide to apply for grant funds or federal support. The next flood season is upon us and we are desperate and anxious to mitigate the potential flood damage.

We are seeking advice from each of our elected representatives, state and federal, in the hope that someone can uncover legislation or recent rulings which help out individual property owners. Without the support of a local jurisdiction we feel abandoned and left to suffer more losses which in turn are a cost to all the taxpayers whose taxes pay FEMA FIP losses.

We hope you are able to provide us some help and direction,

Dave Palmer Ellen Palmer
Dave and Ellen Palmer
7475 State Route 12
Oakville, Washington

This page created and maintained by Dave Palmer

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