The Truth About Flooding in the RAD

The Citizen-Times recently published a fluff opinion piece to address flooding concerns in the RAD (click for article). They interviewed two people - the public relations person for New Belgium and essentially the PR person for the Riverside Redevelopment project, Stephanie Monson Dahl, the City's urban planner.  So, real research was conducted.  NOT.

There is a 99% chance of flooding in next 30 years in RAD
This is an interesting exercise.  The North Carolina Flood Insurance Program put together a flood map.  You can input your address and view its rating (high, low) and likelihood of flooding and when. According to this, the 12 Bones area and Curve Studios area have an 85% chance of flooding in the next 15 years and 99% chance in the next 30 years.  It is rated as HIGH.  If you're interested in looking for yourself, click here: Link to Flood Map

So, with 85% to 99% chance of flooding, let's talk about that.

The Money Pit
Essentially, the City is going to spend at least $26 million in taxpayer funds on pushing development to the RAD. Plus $25 million in grants. That includes a hotel, parking garage, encouraging private development (they estimate at least $200 million).  The City and AARRC brushes away any concerns about flooding by saying they require people to build above the flood plain and they have to have flood insurance.  In short, if they build the first level at least 10 feet high and have flood insurance then all is good.  WRONG.  This is a potential money pit.  If private developers wish to invest, that's up to them but public funds should not.

Biltmore Village vs. RAD
Pushing development to the River is a terrible way to spend taxpayer dollars.  It's a potential money pit and we have a real life example. In 2004 we experienced a huge flood that impacted all of Biltmore Village as well as the RAD.  Biltmore Village suffered major financial damage while the RAD did not.  Why?  Because there was essentially nothing down in the RAD.  Open road, open space.  When the French Broad receded, there was some damage but nothing like what occurred in densely developed Biltmore Village.

Repeatedly when flooding is mentioned in the RAD, proponents of development say, well it's just
Biltmore Village - 2004 Flood
Click for Image location
sidewalks and greenways.  Once the water recedes, everything is fine.  However, what about AFTER the planned development?  The AARRC's plan calls for almost 1 million in developable square feet after all is done.  They want a road to run along the river so they can build a hotel on the river.  It dramatically increases the potential to develop in the RAD.

Flood Impact After Development
If the City partners with a private developer to build a hotel directly on the French Broad as their plans project then you will have employees parking, guests parking, and other structures attendant to the hotel. And the hotel is just part of it.  By pushing development to this small piece, they are hoping more development will come to the rest of the French Broad.

Insurance Will NOT Cover It
NC flood insurance is capped at $500,000 for commercial and $250K for residential IF you're in a medium to low risk zone according to the National Flood Insurance Program (Click for Source) The RAD is in a HIGH RISK zone.  Rates and coverage are dependent on too many factors for them to provide an estimate but you are NOT eligible for preferred rates.

FEMA FLOOD Insurance Does NOT Cover: Download this FEMA pdf of information.
  • Mildew, moisture or mold damage
  • Any property outside of a building - landscaping, other structures, trees, vehicles, sidewalks, etc.
  • Financial damage such as business income or interruption loss (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • Basements - in short, the first floor of all these buildings where parking and cars would be located would NOT be covered
An owner would have to purchase additional coverage to protect against these losses.

All policies, both residential and commercial, will have additional $250 in FEMA surcharges added as of April 2015 and there will be annual rate increases between 15% and 25% in annual premiums. (Click here for Source)

Fraud in FEMA
FEMA is slow and apparently subject to fraud.  Watch this 60 Minutes, 14 minute special which aired March 2015 on FEMA fraud:
Helpful Links:
North Carolina Department of Insurance Consumer Information about Flood Disasters
FloodSmart.Gov (official site of the National Flood Insurance Program of which FEMA is a part)

So, now do you think we should invest taxpayer dollars of $50 million and more plus encourage $200 million in private investors along the French Broad River?  If you do, then buyer beware.

Connect these dots and you will see that our local media, the Citizen-Times, is simply the mouthpiece for the Chamber and the City of Asheville.

Related Articles:
Flooding Information in the River Arts District
Other Flooding Articles


  1. Wow. Look at that pic of 12Bones flooding. To prevent that in the future, they should tear it down and put a road through there. Thanks for pointing that out.

  2. That building has been there at least 50 years and withstood the 2004 flood due to its simple structure. You're right, a road would ensure no flooding but the road will also lead to new, bigger, taxpayer funded structures that the City is planning such as it's new visitor center, hotel, etc.