Letter to the Editor

Sep 29th, 2011 | By admin | Category: Opinion

Dear Editor,

This letter is in response to Mayor  Mike Robertson’s letter last week.

If you have been reading this paper the last few years you would have read about the differences the Mayor and I have had over the flooding concerns in Beebe. But the Mayor is correct about what happened at the trial. The attorney for the Union Pacific Railroad spent the majority of his time attacking the homeowners and the city with his conclusion that they were the ones who caused the flooding, as if the houses had never been built then there would have been no flooding.

Mr. McKay, attorney for UPRR, stated that Roswell Beebe would be rolling over in his grave because the city was blaming the railroad , the  city which was named after him would fault the railroad for the flooding. But who was Roswell Beebe? He, along with others formed a company to build a railroad from Missouri to Argenta. For their efforts the state awarded them over one million acres to build the railroad. Furthermore  the citizens of Beebe never named the city after Mr. Beebe but the railroad named the fueling station for him and this station later became the city of Beebe.

The main witnesses for the UPRR were their own employees but the courtroom never heard that Union Pacific has been fined by the federal government for violating the rights of employees after they raised safety concerns, including track safety issues. These employees were fired or suspended by UPRR. The government ruled that UPRR had a problem of retaliation against workers who made safety issues of the railroad known.

One of the witnesses for the railroad claimed to be on the railroad  Christmas Eve, the night of the flood, but didn’t take any pictures because for some reason the camera he had did not work. Nor did he take any measurements of the flood waters of either side of the tracks during this time but claimed he knew from which direction the flood water approached the tracks.

At no time did the railroad  explain why it did not receive floodplain development permits for the work it has done to its tracks in the floodplain. All the railroad could do is to blame the city and the citizens of Beebe.

Yes, the city has violated some of the floodplain codes but never to the point that FEMA suspended or expelled them from the National Flood Insurance Program. And when the state in 2000 told the city to correct the violations, at that time, the city did.

Maybe, if Roswell Beebe knew how the railroad treated the citizens of Beebe he would be rolling over in his grave.

As a person who had flood insurance and whose house was flooded I would like to explain a few things about it I did not know until my house flooded.

First, flood insurance only pays for damage inside a home only if the flood waters have touched it. I suffered damage to my ceiling because of the condensation caused by 35 inches of water in my house but this damage was not covered. Nor was anything outside of my house including my privacy fence. Because the flood had changed the structure of the soil beneath my house the slab cracked but this was not covered because the flood did not move the slab.

Second, flood insurance came about for the purpose of saving the federal government money. Because the government cannot prevent you from building in a floodplain they came up with methods to discourage it. One of those is called Substantial Damage which requires any house built in a floodplain, which suffers fifty percent or greater damage for any reason.  must be elevated to flood level, moved or demolished. If your house did not receive fifty per cent damage it is still on a time clock  and if it is damaged for any reason the cost to repair and the previous repair damages are added together.

The problem with this is flood insurance only pays for damages so if you owe more on your mortgage you still have to pay for a house that must be demolished. It is not like homeowners insurance which pays for the total value of your house if it suffers damage and cannot be repaired.

Flood insurance does not pay for relocation expenses or living expenses while you are out of your house. So it you think you are covered by flood insurance you are not.

I do not believe  the railroad will spend money to help with the drainage problems and it is my belief that the flood elevation of 220 ft. is too low. If this is so then not only the houses that have flooded but other houses are in danger. It is my belief that the city should require any new construction in the area to be  above the 220 ft. mark,   at least two feet above the Base Flood Elevation. This will not prevent flooding but it might save future homeowners from being flooded out.

Stewart Kirby - Conway

(Former Windwood resident)