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Build Smart targets smart development

Pam Wilds doesn’t live in the floodplain, but she knows people who do.

Tuesday, April 06, 1999

Pam Wilds doesn’t live in the floodplain, but she knows people who do.

"One in 10 of our loans are in the flood zone," said the First Federal Savings Bank employee.

"I don’t want to talk people out of buying a house in the flood zone, but it would be helpful to know what they’re up against," she said.

So, Mrs. Wilds signed up when the late Herb Rye invited individuals representing lending, insurance, real estate and appraisal businesses together to promote floodplain awareness.

Known as the Committee to Support Smart Development in Lawrence County, or "Build Smart," the group has armed itself with brochures and ideas, said Doug Cade of the Ironton-Lawrence County Area Community Action Organization.

Cade and the CAO, which administer the county’s floodplain management programs, donated $1,000 in printing.

They also wrote a presentation for the group, given before county commissioners Thursday.

"We cannot tolerate, as a community, or expect taxpayers to bail us out every time there’s a flood," Cade said. "It’s important we all do our part. People need to think before they start building."

Build Smart has been meeting since August with that one message in mind: More thoughtful development can save money, lives and property.

It’s an ounce of prevention, said Mrs. Wilds, who serves as secretary.

Many of the committee members have watched creeks and the river rise, sweeping house after house downstream, she said.

"We’ve seen the need, so we are trying to help," she said.

If information about the dangers of flood-prone areas becomes more widespread, maybe the damage will be less, the committee said.

Committee members include First Federal, Scherer-Mountain Insurance, Liberty federal Savings and Loan, Dickess Insurance, C.L. Carpenter Realty and Desco Federal Credit Union.

The businesses will pass out brochures listing myths and facts of floodplain construction, answer questions about how to get floodplain permits and find surveyors, and find alternatives to floodproofing.

"The committee’s intent is to educate the public on building requirements, not to monitor or report those that violate the county’s building code," the brochure states. "They believe the best way to prevent the next disaster is by preparing for it today through planning "

Build Smart also might help the county in its relations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Lawrence is currently on probation with FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program because building regulations were not followed by many homeowners 10 years ago. Homeowners complain that they never knew about the regulations.

But supporting Build Smart will show federal officials that the county is serious about correcting that problem, commission president Bruce Trent said.

"If we would’ve done this in 1989, we wouldn’t have been in this position now," he said.

For more information, or to join Build Smart, write to P.O. Box 517, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or call Lawrence County Floodplain Management at 533-2159.