For the first time since it was built in the mid-1950’s, Barbourville’s flood wall is now nationally certified to protect the town from a flood. Had the flood wall not passed its recent inspection, residents and businesses could have seen a hike in insurance costs across the city.
According to Josh Callihan, Barbourville Utilities Commission’s general manager, the certification process was mandated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) following strong hurricanes and flooding in the United States over the last decade. All cities with a flood wall had to undergo the same inspection process.
“This really stems from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and a few other big hurricanes like Sandy,” said Callihan, who worked with the engineers on this inspection. “FEMA paid out a lot of money for damages in those storms.”
The entire inspection process took approximately one year and Barbourville passed with flying colors.
“We had that inspection done by an engineering firm and we passed. Our flood wall is officially certified now,” continued Callihan.
Callihan stated this inspection came with huge implications for residents and business owners.
“If we hadn’t passed, when FEMA does their flood maps, they would treat Barbourville like it doesn’t have a levee which would put Barbourville in a floodplain,” explained Callihan. “With it now certified, flood maps will reflect that the downtown area is protected by the levee.”
Had Barbourville not been certified, residents and business owners could have encountered a lot of changes with insurance; however, since Barbourville passed inspection and gained national certification, Callihan reports those in the city will see no major changes.
“There’s a lot of risk with not being certified. Now that it’s certified and complete, nothing really changes. FEMA just acknowledges that the levee will protect us from a flood,” concluded Callihan.