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FAQ Sandy River Bridge
Interstate 84 Sandy River Bridges Flood Plain: Frequently Asked Questions
Below is a list of frequently asked questions to help you better understand the situation and the steps you need to take to ensure that your property and/or belongings are protected in the event of a flood.
 
Why is ODOT replacing the I-84 bridges over the Sandy River?
The bridges over the Sandy River were built more than 50 years ago. The existing bridges will not be able to handle future traffic growth or to safely carry heavier modern freight and auto traffic. 
 
How long will it take to build the bridges?
The construction schedule has changed. Work is scheduled to continue until late 2014.
  • 2011: Eastbound bridges: remove the old bridge, build the new bridge and remove the temporary work bridge.
  • 2012: Complete construction and open the new eastbound bridge to carry all I-84 traffic and remove the old westbound bridge.
  • 2013: Modify the temporary eastbound detour bridge to use as a temporary work bridge, begin building the new westbound bridge and remove the temporary work bridge.
  • 2014:  Complete construction of the new westbound bridge. Remove remaining falsework and switch traffic to final configuration on the eastbound and westbound bridges.

  
What is ODOT doing to reduce the potential for flooding my property?
ODOT has reviewed alternative construction plans that would reduce the potential flood risk caused by this project and has decided to use falsework towers to launch the bridge girders, which eliminates the need for the eastbound work bridge once the falsework towers are erected in the fall of 2011. All I-84 traffic will be shifted to the new eastbound bridge once it is complete, and the existing detour bridge will be converted to a work bridge to build the new westbound bridge, eliminating the need to build a new westbound work bridge. We have also built a flood barrier on the west bank between the freeway and the railroad bridge, and we are actively removing river debris from the bridge piers and pilings. 
 
What are you doing to mitigate the increased impact? ODOT is reducing the number of temporary bridge piers and pilings in the river, changing the project schedule and construction methods, extending the summertime in-water work period, and actively removing debris from the bridge piers and pilings.
 
How likely is flooding along the Sandy River?
There is a small chance (2.97 percent) of a 100-year storm occurring during the remaining construction period. Nevertheless, ODOT is planning for a high-water event and is working to reduce the risk of flooding where possible. There is a 49 percent chance that a five-year storm will occur during the project’s duration, and a 27 percent chance that a 10-year storm will occur. ODOT recognizes the potential for storms that may result in flooding and is working to reduce the damage to potentially affected properties.
 
How did ODOT determine which properties would be at higher risk for flooding due to the project and are therefore eligible for flood insurance reimbursement by the agency?
Federal Emergency Management Agency maps show the existing elevation of the 100-year flood.  These maps do not take into account the temporary effects of the new Sandy River Bridge construction, including work bridges and a detour bridge with additional piers in the water, which will increase the potential for flooding.  Therefore, ODOT modeled the level of a 100-year flood to include the project’s construction impacts on the river and to properties within and near the FEMA 100-year flood elevation.
 
All properties within these limits have been surveyed to determine the lowest floor elevation.  If the lowest floor elevation is at or below the 100-year flood elevation during construction, the structure is eligible for flood insurance reimbursement. It’s important to note that while your property’s land may be covered by high water, it is the lowest floor elevation of the dwelling that determines your eligibility for flood insurance reimbursement.

How will I know if my home or business is eligible for ODOT’s flood insurance reimbursement program?
If your home or business meets the eligibility requirements, most likely you’ve already been contacted, had your property surveyed and been provided an Elevation Certificate.
 
If you feel your home or business may be eligible for flood insurance reimbursement and you have not been contacted by ODOT, please call Breana Landman at (503) 471-6818 to arrange for a survey of your property.  Surveyors will provide an initial determination whether your home or business may be within the 100-year flood during construction based on its elevation.  If it is, the surveyors will determine all elevations required for an Elevation Certificate and the certificate will be sent to you.  Please note that Elevation Certificates are being prepared for all properties surveyed and the receipt of an Elevation Certificate does not necessarily mean that you qualify for insurance reimbursement. 
 
I own land that is in the process of being certified to build on. After the project is complete, the reduction in potential flood impact will affect what I can build on the land. Can ODOT provide what the reduction for potential flood impact will be once the project is complete?
No. Regardless of how much we forecast the reduction in potential flood impact that might be post project; this is a question for FEMA. FEMA can resurvey the entire area and remap the zone, only then will anyone know if ODOT’s positive impact will affect FEMA’s potential flood impact zone. 
 
If the RV park is threatened, where do residents move their vehicles?
You should work with the RV park owner for more information about site-specific recommendations and plans. It’s important to have a personal emergency evacuation plan that you will follow in the event of a flood, including provisions to move your RV, motor home or trailer to higher ground.
 
Will ODOT pay for comprehensive coverage on RVs?
No. ODOT will not reimburse for comprehensive coverage on RVs because they are not permanent fixed property (as would be insurable by a NFIP policy) and can be moved in case of a flood. ODOT can only reimburse for NFIP flood insurance premiums, and RVs do not fall into that category. However, physical damage, as a part of someone’s insurance coverage for autos, RVs, trucks, etc. does generally cover flood. Each owner should check with their insurance agent to confirm the type of coverage they have or can get.
 
It is our understanding that in previous events an evacuation plan has been available.  Please check with the park landlord or city and county emergency personnel for specific details on how such a plan is executed.  Considering the exposure to the river, such a plan should exist whether ODOT was working in the vicinity or not.  However, should an evacuation occur that requires an evacuation ODOT will help off-set costs incurred for temporary living expenses and temporary vehicle storage until such time as (1) the event is over or (2) the vehicle can be returned to the park or the owner elects to move to another park.
 
Will ODOT pay renter’s insurance?
ODOT will not reimburse for renter’s insurance. Renter’s can buy NFIP flood insurance on their contents for which ODOT will reimburse them.
 
Will ODOT pay for flood insurance for property owners?
Yes. ODOT will reimburseowners of potentially affected properties for flood insurance premiums through the duration of the project if their property is eligible. In late September and early October 2010, ODOT will send surveyors into the field to map the finished floor elevation of select buildings and other structures. ODOT will use this information to provide property owners with the required elevation certificates at no cost. ODOT encourages affected property owners to purchase flood insurance and will reimburse them for their flood insurance premiums through 2013. If you file a claim ODOT will reimburse you for the deductable.

If you do not have flood insurance, ODOT recommends purchasing it by Oct. 1 so it will take effect by Nov. 1, which is the start of Oregon’s rainy season. After flood insurance coverage is paid for, there is a 30-day waiting period before it takes effect.
 
Will I need to mail my renewal certificate or proof of payment to the same address each year through 2014? Will ODOT remind property owners each year to mail in their renewal certificates or proof of payments?
NFIP policies are annual policies, therefore ODOT will need the renewal certificate (declaration page) and proof of payment to be submitted each year to HCOSRI, P.O. Box 812 Troutdale, OR 97060. ODOT will NOT remind property owners to mail in their renewal certificate or proof of payment; it is the property owner’s responsibility to submit it each year.  Many insurance agents have systems for the purpose of managing and sending renewal reminders; you should rely on your insurance agent for such notices.
 
If I own multiple properties in the potentially affected area, will ODOT pay for my flood insurance on all properties?
Yes. ODOT will reimburse flood insurance for all properties in the potentially affected area.
 
If my current agent is not listed on the FEMA website, but does provide NFIP coverage, can I use my current agent or do I have to use an agent on FEMA’s website?
We are learning that the FEMA agent list is not all inclusive. Yes, you can use your current agent if they are able to provide the NFIP coverage.
 
Can ODOT confirm that my property is in a potentially affected area prior to going though the reimbursement process?
Yes, ODOT encourages property owners to confirm with us that the property is in the potentially affected area before purchasing flood insurance.  Property owners can make arrangements to have their property surveyed to determine if they are in the affected area or not by calling Breana Landman at (503) 471-6818 to make arrangements for a surveyor to come out and assess your property.
 
My property value is greater than the coverage amount offered by NFIP. Will ODOT reimburse for damage outside of what is covered in my NFIP policy?
We realize there are homes worth more than what NFIP can provide. While it is possible that a property could be subject to a total loss, we encourage you to talk with your insurance agent about various aspects of your flood risk and if a total loss is a realistic concern.  Remember, ODOT feels there is only a 2.7% chance of a flood event anywhere similar to 1996; consequently, is a total loss a realistic concern?  Having said this, it is not our intent to pay for insurance over and above NFIP insurance. If a total loss occurred to a property we will address that with the property owner through our internal risk management claims process.
 
If I currently pay for a minimal flood insurance policy, will ODOT reimburse me for the full amount if I increase my policy coverage due to an increase of potential flood elevation?
Yes, ODOT will reimburse property owners for the full flood insurance policy. However, before you decide to change your insurance amount, we greatly encourage you to discuss this with your insurance agent and make sure you meet all policy requirements for property valuation.
 
Do I have to pay for my property to be surveyed?
No. ODOT is covering the surveying expenses for this project.
 
Do I need to contact ODOT’s surveyors to make an appointment for our property to be surveyed?
No. If you are not home when the surveyors arrive, they will perform the survey and leave notice in an eye-catching location that they were on your property.
 
How will surveyors determine the elevation of unfinished basements?
If you have an unfinished basement, you need to be home when the surveyors visit your property to grant them access to the basement.
 
What is the elevation of the property based upon?
The elevation of your property is based on the first finished floor of the house.
 
What does flood insurance cover?
Flood insurance policies cover physical damage to property and possessions. You have the option to buy flood insurance on your home, your belongings, or both your home and belongings. Flood insurance does not cover currency, precious metals, and valuable papers such as stock certificates. Other coverage restrictions apply to basements. For more information, talk with your insurance agent or visit http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/residential_coverage/whats_covered.jsp.
 
If you need to report a loss for something not covered by insurance, you can do so at http://www.oregon.gov/DAS/SSD/Risk/PublicReportingLoss.shtml.
 
Are decks covered by flood insurance? Is it possible to get group coverage for decks?
No. ODOT researched a group policy for the entire affected area, but it was not a viable option. ODOT will institute a claims process for items not covered by flood insurance. If your deck is damaged in a flood during this project, you will be eligible to file a claim in this process. As part of the claims process, the agency recommends keeping on file any permits, receipts, photos or documentation that could streamline the claim process.
 
If I purchase flood insurance now, do I have to keep it for life?
No. If you purchase flood insurance, you may choose whether to renew your policy each year. For the most accurate information about flood insurance, please contact your agent or Ron Bennett, ODOT’s procurement risk and insurance coordinator at (503) 618-6779 or ron.s.bennett@odot.state.or.us.
 
Will ODOT cover the replacement costs that FEMA’s flood insurance does not?
We recognize that there is some property that is not covered by a FEMA Map Information Exchange flood insurance policy. The FMIX provides information about the National Flood Insurance Program rules, regulations, and procedures for mapping and map changes. Things such as trees, plants, walks, patios, decks, fences, temporary living expenses and loss of rental income are generally excluded from coverage. Claims may be filed with ODOT for loss or damage to items that are not covered by a NFIP policy.
 
Any claims for damage not covered by your flood insurance must be reported to the State of Oregon Risk Management office. Either call (503) 373-7475 for instructions in reporting a loss or mail a signed letter to the address below giving date, time, place, circumstances and your estimate of damages. Include your address and phone number so we can contact you.

Claims should be mailed to: Department of Administrative Services, State Services Division
Risk Management, 1225 Ferry Street SE, U150, Salem, OR  97301-4287. Or fax your claim to (503) 373-7337. For additional information about the claim process, visit   http://www.oregon.gov/DAS/SSD/Risk/PublicReportingLoss.shtml.
 
How will we find out if the river is going to flood?
Multnomah County and the city of Troutdale has developed an emergency notification plan that will alert community members if there is a risk of flooding. For more information about Multnomah County’s emergency planning services, visit http://web.multco.us/em. To sign up for Public Alerts, visit https://www.publicalerts.org/.
 
Multnomah County operates on alerts from the National Weather Service. In the event of potential flooding, residents should do their best to stay abreast of the situation by monitoring the news and internet for updates.
 
Most importantly, it is critical for every home and business to have a personal emergency response plan. In the event that evacuation is needed, you should follow your personal evacuation plan. Monitoring local conditions and having a practiced plan in place will reduce potential impacts and keep pets and families safe in any emergency situation. Please consider visiting http://ready.gov/ to download a preparation kit.
 
What do I do if I want to get a permit for a new building on my property?
Applications for building permits should be based on the existing Federal Emergency Management Agency data provided through the city of Troutdale building permit process. Impacts created by the construction of the I-84 Sandy River bridges are temporary and will ultimately reduce the risk to property in the vicinity of the bridge. Contact Elizabeth McCallum at (503) 665-5175 for additional information.
 
Where can I get more information?
For more information about ODOT’s project or flood insurance, please contact: 
  
Meredith Solberg, Public Involvement at (503) 471-6820.