I Don't Know When It Became My Job to Tell You When You're Screwed ...

I'm getting a a lot of e-mail from people who want to know how to look up their property on the FEMA flood risk maps to see if they are exposed to flooding since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has declared the city's Trinity River levee system unsafe.

I'll try to help, but let me say something important first: I am not the right guy to be doing this. I can make general observations about broad areas of the maps, but to do this the right way for specific properties, somebody needs to be an engineer trained and qualified in these matters.

That's why I asked the city to do it. Unfortunately, they refused.

The question is whether property is in the area that falls under the following rubric shown on the flood maps: "This area protected from the 100-year flood by levee, dike or other structure subject to failure or overtopping during larger floods."

If it is, then the property is in trouble, because the rubric isn't true any more. The Corps has said those areas are no longer protected from the 100-year (base-line) flood by the levees, because the levees are no longer providing certified protection, because the city let them go to hell.

FEMA told me the proper authority to tell people where they stand is the City of Dallas Flood Control District. They could look at the map and see where a property falls on it. But according to Frank Librio, the spokesman for the City of Dallas, the city is not willing to do that.

So I guess you have to do it for yourself. Here's the best I can do for you:

You have to start out here:

Click on Dallas on the map three times to zoom in.

Click on your part of Dallas once.

Go to the tools on the left of the screen and click on the little yellow box with a downward pointing arrow on it and the caption, "Box."

Go back to the map and draw a box on your neighborhood.

Wait for the new screen to appear.

It will say, "Map Search results," and it will show two or three map items listed, depending on how big you drew your box.

Click on "View" for the first one.

A new screen will appear with a back and white map on it.

Go to the top where it says, "Scale." Erase the number 4 and type in 15. Hit enter.

Wait for the new screen. Go to the left and click on the "Pan" tool.

Now you can move around the map.

In some areas you will see a legend, "This area protected from the 100-year flood by levee, dike or other structure subject to failure or overtopping during larger floods."

You can kind of make out a shaded area referred to by that legend.

If you pan to the far right of the screen, you will see a legend that gives you a list of codes and what they mean (upper right corner of map).

You can go back and find those codes on the map.

As I say, interpreting all this is still a little wobbly for a layman (like me). That's why I wanted the city to spell it out for me, which they would not do.

Please let me know if anybody decides to start working on an ark.

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