April 23, 2012
FEMA’s new flood rating reduces insurance premiums in Pierce County
Pierce County has earned a new flood rating from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a result of its floodplain management activities. The new rating means that unincorporated Pierce County residents living in a mapped floodplain will enjoy lower flood insurance premiums effective May 1.
Pierce County is now the third community in the United States with a Class 2 rating under the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System, which recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities. The program reduces flood insurance premium rates for property owners in communities that implement activities above and beyond the basic requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program. Pierce County has held a Class 3 rating since 2008.
"This achievement shows how seriously Pierce County takes floodplain management," said Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. "We promote innovative approaches to flood risk management. We are focused on projects that protect life and property, flood preparation, our flood warning system, and outreach and education. These efforts are paying off in the form of reduced flood insurance premiums for our residents."
Plaque presentation on April 24
David Miller, FEMA's Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration's Associate Administrator, will present the county's Class 2 plaque during the Pierce County Council meeting at 6 p.m. April 24 at the Key Peninsula Middle School in Lakebay. (The meeting is one of a series held in each County Council district throughout the year.)
"Pierce County is now the third community in the nation with a Class 2 rating," said Ken Murphy, FEMA Regional Administrator. "This rating reflects the county's dedication to excellence in floodplain management. The county and its residents have taken important steps to enhance public safety, reduce damages to property and public infrastructure, avoid economic disruption and losses, and protect the environment."
King County, Wash. and Tulsa, Okla. also have a Class 2 rating. Roseville, Calif. is the only community with a Class 1 rating. Nationwide, there are 1,211 communities that participate in the Community Rating System, with 33 in Washington State. Pierce County has participated in the Community Rating System since 1995.
Lower flood insurance premiums
Unincorporated Pierce County residents in a mapped Special Flood Hazard Area will receive a 40 percent reduction in their flood insurance premiums, an increase from the current 35 percent discount. Residents not in a Special Flood Hazard Area will continue to see a 10 percent reduction.
As of March 2012, there were 2,178 active flood insurance policies in unincorporated Pierce County. The current average premium is $526. The savings due to the Community Rating System's Class Ranking each year is $341,000.
System focuses on four areas
The Community Rating System looks at a participating community's activities in four areas: public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and flood preparation. Each community is rated on a scale of 1 to 10, depending on extra flood protection measures taken.
Pierce County's comprehensive floodplain management program includes a variety of measures. For example, the county distributes a Flood Bulletin annually to more than 19,000 residents living in a flood hazard area. The bulletin provides information on what to do before, during and after a flood, as well as updates about flood insurance, emergency contacts, and more. The county also offers free floodplain maps to help property owners determine their flood risk.
The county's flood warning system includes a rivers flood forecast tool and an alert system through the Pierce County Emergency Management Department that sends residents flood-related messages.
Also, through its flood buyout program, Pierce County pursues federal funds to allow it to purchase properties that are repeatedly damaged by floods and then restore the property back to its natural floodplain functions.
For more information on floodplain management activities in Pierce County, visit www.piercecountywa.org/flooding. For more information on the Community Rating System, visit www.fema.gov/business/nfip/crs.shtm.
Harold Smelt, Public Works and Utilities surface water manager
Diana Seifert, FEMA Region X public affairs officer
Anne Radford, Public Works and Utilities public information officer