For all those home owners who have to pay for flood insurance for their property, FEMA, in conjunction with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a program to help offset the costs of premiums up to 45% annually. Started by FEMA in 1990, the Community Rating System (CRS) program is initiated by the city and managed by the assigned coordinator.The Coordinator’s position is designated by the city’s mayor.
The CRS program has three major goals; (1) reduce flood damage to insurable property; (2) strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP); and encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management. The CRS program is designed to help residents decrease the damage done to their property by storm flooding.
The CRS program consists of 18 public information and floodplain management activities as described in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System Coordinator’s Manual (publication FIA-15/2013). Many of these activities are already being implemented and are ongoing in this city. Some of these activities include; maintaining Elevation Certificates for new construction in the floodplain (required when building or financing a mortgage for a home); providing Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) information service; sending information to residents to those in flood hazard areas concerning hazards and mitigations; providing a community website for residents to find technical information on how to protect buildings from flooding; developing new flood elevation information beyond original FIRM data; and protecting existing floodplain structures by flood proofing, elevation and minor structural improvements.
There is more that this city can reasonably do to improve our ability to obtain Flood Insurance premium rate reductions. To begin with, this city must apply to participate in the CRS program. As of this date, that has not occurred for various reasons according to my discussions and emails with several city officials. Currently, this city is the only city in the Hampton Roads area to not participate. Because some city officials have chosen to not take part in the NFIP Community Rating System program, all residents currently paying Flood Insurance premiums are not eligible for those reduced premiums. It should be noted that the cost of flood insurance premiums are expected to increase significantly in 2016 unless Congress changes the current laws governing FEMA and the NFIP. As this city is currently conducting some of the required activities of the CRS, I would expect that our future insurance premiums could be decreased by at least 15-20% if the city were to participate in the CRS program, like all the other cities in Hampton Roads.