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Gresham joins other regional jurisdictions to secure accreditation for levee

The city of Gresham will enter into an intergovernmental agreement to ensure the Columbia River levee system is safe and secures proper accreditation allowing businesses and homes within the area to obtain flood insurance.

The unanimous decision was made by Gresham City Council during its Tuesday evening, March 5, meeting.

The levee system must be re-certified with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to pass the Federal Emergency Management Agency's flood insurance program. That process involves many government groups, as the levee stretches between jurisdictions. Gresham, Portland, Fairview, Troutdale, Wood Village, Multnomah County, Metro regional government and the Port of Portland are all members of the agreement, along with four local drainage districts.

The levees protect industrial and commercial land supplying about 10 percent of the jobs in Multnomah County, as well as major public assets like the Portland International Airport.

Levee re-certification rules became stricter after levees failed, causing catastrophic flooding in New Orleans, following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and other natural disasters.

Part of the agreement Gresham is entering into is the division of cost-sharing between the groups. Gresham's allocation is 1.5 percent of total costs, which is anticipated to be $8,759 for the 2019-20 fiscal year. The group will also create a permanent governance structure for the system.

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