Posted on January 9, 2023
Flood relief could be on its way for west Wichita.
Wichita and Sedgwick County are hoping to tap a federal grant program to help cover a $40 million project aimed at reducing flooding in fast-growing west Wichita and areas outside the city limits.
The city and county would each pitch in $5 million, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s “Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities,” or BRIC, program would cover the rest of the cost.
The project – building two dams on the Calfskin Creek – would move more than 500 acres and 180 structures out of the 100-year FEMA floodplain, city officials say. The city estimates it would clear the way for more than $5 million of future property development.
FEMA rejected the city’s application last year, but the federal government has increased funding this year.
Megan Lovely, city spokesperson, said further details on the grant application won’t be available until Jan. 27.
Besides mitigating the risk of flood damage, the project is also expected to help keep streets from flooding. It could also save homeowners tens of thousands of dollars in the long run.
Most lenders require flood insurance on buildings in the FEMA floodplain map, which costs around $1,000 a year, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of a house.
The area under consideration starts at Calfskin Creek west of Maize Road and extends for 4 to 5 miles east and 3 to 4 miles north and south of Kellogg.
A city agenda report on the project says the proposal “preserves 700 acres of open space for ecological and possible future recreational purposes.”
City Council member Jeff Blubaugh, who is also a real estate agent, said in a written statement that flood relief for that area – which includes some of his district – has been a top priority for him since before he was elected to the council.
“After the infamous ‘Halloween Flood’ of 1998, the Cowskin Creek was vastly improved by Wichita and the Army Corp of Engineers,” Blubaugh said in a written statement. “The Calfskin Creek is yet another obstacle that the City projects taking $40 million in expenses to correct which will save hundreds of acres and homes from future flooding.
“The city, along with Sedgwick County, has put in for a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) grant that would cover 75% of the project’s cost. The proposal was not accepted by FEMA last year, but we are hoping for a better outcome this year.”