When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the dikes in the city gave way, causing massive flooding.
Following Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency--FEMA--changed its rules about the inspections of levees. No longer would FEMA accept inspection results from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as sufficient for levees. That meant cities had to hire private engineering firms or face the prospect of having their floodplain maps rewritten.
Monday night the Decorah City Council hired the Minneapolis firm of Meade and Hunt Engineering to conduct the first phase of a levee study, at a cost of $28,570. The firm will spend 45 days reviewing records of previous inspections. A second phase of the levee study, if required, would cost more money for an actual physical inspection of the levee.
However, city officials point out the alternative would be even more expensive, since a redrawing of the floodplain maps by FEMA would result in higher insurance premiums and more difficulty in getting building permits from the DNR.