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Glendale Narrows residents alerted to possible flood risk

Residents living in a pocket near the Glendale Narrows — a portion of the city along the Los Angeles River — were alerted last month to elevated flood risks discovered in a recent study.

Those possibly affected by the potential new flood-hazard zone attended a workshop Monday in L.A. with experts from the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to better understand the complicated issue and what to expect in a planning process that may take up to several years.

The segment of Glendale is among more than 3,000 parcels of land north of downtown Los Angeles found by the Army Corps of Engineers in October to be at risk of submersion by an average of 5 to 10 feet of water in the event of a 100-year storm.

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The term refers to the one-in-100 chance that a storm of that significance happen during any given year. For Glendale, this includes parts of the Riverside Rancho neighborhood facing Bette Davis park.

The findings have triggered a process wherein the current Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRM, may be updated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to reflect the new Special Flood Hazard Area.

Although this process would take up to two years, the updates would require property owners with federally backed mortgages located on the parcels to purchase flood insurance.

For now, the city is advising, not mandating, that affected residents consider an early adoption of flood insurance to take advantage of low-cost rates. Should FEMA update the FIRM, those who purchase insurance today may also be grandfathered into the lower rates.

According to the National Flood Insurance Program, annual premiums cost an average of nearly $700 last year.

Hydraulic engineer Adam Bier with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers spent time fielding up to five or six questions from each attendee at the workshop, many still on the fence about purchasing flood insurance.

Bier said the corps and L.A. County are still open to having further discussions about the flood-hazard area because, as of now, there’s no current agreement for a new flood-risk management study — the last of which was conducted in 1992.

“The study would be a cautionary agreement between L.A and the corps,” Bier said “That study would be similar to ’92, but it would be an update and it would likely focus on this Glendale Narrows area and come up with flood-risk management solutions to alleviate the flooding. It would remove the areas that we just added from the 100-year flood plan.”

The FEMA maps would not be updated until solutions generated from the new flood-risk management study were in place.

Potential mitigation measures would include detaining water upstream by either increasing the capacity of dams or creating new detention facilities to reduce flow in the channel. Another option would be to transfer more water in the channel with flood walls.

Los Angeles officials are currently in the process of reviewing the updated flood-plan maps and preparing a submittal package to FEMA. There is, as of now, no date for submission.

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Jeff Landa, jeff.landa@latimes.com

Twitter: @JeffLanda


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