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Small Oklahoma town placed on flood insurance probation

FEMA announced the city of Moffett would be placed on "probationary status" for not being compliant with floodplain management under NFIP.

MOFFETT, Okla. — Located in the floodplain of the Arkansas River is Moffet, Oklahoma, a town with around 180 people and a history of falling victim to damaging floods, including the 2019 flooding that ended up altering the Arkansas River.

"The worst flood that we've ever had on the Arkansas River probably since Noah," said Billy Roberts, owner of Roberts Salvage in Moffett.

On Sept. 26, 2022, FEMA announced that the town would be placed on "probationary status" for not being compliant with floodplain management required to have access under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

"So, to be clear Moffett is not on probation right now," said FEMA Region 6 Flood Manager Charlie Cook.

It won't go into effect until Nov. 26, 2022, unless Moffett can fix the violations or prepare a compliance plan that's approved by FEMA, and will stay in effect for one year.

"Moffet is not doing that sort of cornerstone of the project," Cook said. "They're not permitting development."

NFIP has nine policies within the city, four of which are with Moffett Public Schools and five residential.

"Placement on probation is a formal notice to the community that the local floodplain management program is not compliant and is the first step in the process to suspend the community’s eligibility to participate in the NFIP," FEMA said in a statement.

RELATED: Two years after historic flood, the future of Moffett is uncertain

Even though flood insurance will still be available in Moffett, there will be a $50 charge added to the premium of each new and renewed flood insurance policy that's sold within the town during the year it's under probation.

If Moffett can't correct the violations, it could lead to the small town to being suspended from the NFIP, meaning the flood insurance would stop and it would be likely that future flood damage wouldn't be covered by the federal government.

"FEMA has conducted extensive outreach to the Town of Moffett over three years through formal correspondence, emails, phone calls, a town hall meeting, engagement with local nonprofits, state agencies and a community assistance visit intended to resolve NFIP compliance issues," FEMA said.

FEMA also said it will still provide technical assistance and guidance to Moffett in an effort to "resolve" the violations to make sure residents will continue to have access to flood insurance.

"Complete devastation," Roberts said recalling the 2019 floods.

Roberts has owned "Roberts Salvage" for more than 50 years, serving the town of Moffett. 

"We've been in business since 1946," said Roberts. "It started with my grandfather."

In 2019, the historic flooding impacted his business.

"We were out of commission for about 16 months," Roberts said.

However, in September of 2020, his company rebuilt, taking mitigation efforts to ensure if flooding happens again, it won't have the same impact.

"We survived a lot of obstacles in our 76 years now and always came through and always came out on the other side and survive," Roberts said.

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