BILOXI, Miss. — Gulf Coast community floodplain managers gathered recently to develop a plan that provides maximum assistance and protection for citizens.
The officials are working to establish the first regional coordinated outreach strategy team to educate residents about flood hazards, flood insurance, flood protection measures and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
“What they’re accomplishing today just makes sense for communities,” said Sherry Harper, Insurance Service Office/Community Rating System (CRS) specialist. “We’ve tried to encourage communities to do this over the years. They’re saving time, money and pooling resources that will help everyone in the long run.”
In a meeting organized by Community Education Outreach Specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the managers focused on preparing an outreach strategy that recognizes the individual needs of each community, while delivering the general messages of insurance awareness and floodplain management.
The CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. The goals of the CRS include reducing flood losses, facilitating accurate insurance ratings, and promoting flood insurance awareness.
During the meeting, the floodplain managers exchanged ideas about their outreach plans and identified attainable and sustainable goals for their communities, such as increasing public environmental awareness and public education, and identifying economical ways to maximize outreach capabilities.
Communities that improve their CRS rating can lower their NFIP premiums. There are 18 activities communities can perform to garner points. The activities can be directed toward floodplain residents, property owners, insurance agents, real estate agents or other segments of the local populace.
Mississippi meets or exceeds the national average in a few of the categories, including providing protection for new developments that exceeds the NFIP’s minimum requirements.
The City of Waveland currently has the best CRS rating in the state, saving its residents approximately 10-25% in NFIP premiums. In Mississippi, 21 communities currently participate in the CRS.
As of December 2006, Mississippi communities have received CRS savings of nearly $895,000 for NFIP policies totaling $14.5 million.
FEMA coordinates the federal government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.