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PALM COAST, FL – May 2, 2017 – The City of Palm Coast’s floodplain management rating has increased to among the best in the nation – a measure that shows how well a City is prepared for flooding and a rating that provides residents deeper discounts on flood insurance.
The National Flood Insurance Program increased Palm Coast’s rating in the Community Rating System (CRS) to a Class 4, effective May 1. The CRS recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) standards.
There are only four Class 4 cities or counties in the entire United States, and only nine others with better ratings nationwide. Scores range from 1 to 10, with the lower the number the better the ranking. Some 1,444 communities in the nation participate in the Community Rating System. In Florida, Class 3 is the best ranking, and it is held by Ocala – with Palm Coast joining the elite as a Class 4.
“This program is aimed at keeping the public safe, preventing structural flooding during major rainstorms and protecting the environment,” said City Administration Coordinator Denise Bevan, the City’s floodplain administrator and leader of the Floodplain Management Team. “We have a comprehensive strategy, and we’re proud that our new rating puts us among the top communities nationwide, in terms of floodplain management.”
Palm Coast’s floodplain management activities are reviewed annually, and an ISO (Insurance Services Office) representative performs a community visit every three years. The City has improved its rating three times since 2004.
Higher ratings are based on floodplain management activities that the City voluntarily participates in above and beyond what is required by FEMA under the NFIP. Some activities that contribute to the better rating include preserving natural environment, especially in areas that fall in Special Flood Hazard Areas, which are A and AE zones within the City; improving and maintaining drainage systems; following floodplain management practices for permits and development; organizing and planning emergency preparedness; providing public information and education; and offering public service for flood map information.
Flooding is an issue across Florida, but especially coastal communities such as Palm Coast. Here, flooding may be caused by two sources: the Intracoastal Waterway overflowing its banks during severe storms and/or high tide and by an unexpected downpour of rain from a tropical storm, hurricane or a major rain event such as what was experienced in Palm Coast in September 2014.
Standard homeowners insurance does not cover a flooded home, and the City urges all homeowners to buy flood insurance regardless of whether they live in a flood zone or flood-prone area. FEMA data shows that 20 percent of all flood claims come from properties outside the high-risk zone or Special Flood Hazard Area.
“Flooding is an act of nature that does not respect boundary lines,” Bevan said. “Floodwater can cover many blocks with water up to four or five feet deep and can come with little warning. The best way to be prepared is to have flood insurance in advance.”
Homeowners should contact their insurance company for information on specific policies that might protect properties from disastrous damage costs. The National Flood Insurance Program Call Center at 888-379-9531 can provide an agent referral, if needed.
With the rating increase to a Class 4, eligible Palm Coast property owners in a Special Flood Hazard Area will now receive a 30-percent discount on their premiums (up from 25 percent). Properties outside of a Special Flood Hazard Area will continue to receive a 10-percent discount on their already lower premiums; this represents a majority of the Palm Coast community. Most of our residents may even be eligible for a preferred risk policy, the most affordable policy for properties located in low-risk floodplain designations, the X zones.
Bevan credits a number of factors to the increased rating – the biggest being the improvement of the local mitigation strategy to better align with floodplain management activities. The City is an active participant of the local mitigation strategy working group led by Flagler County Emergency Management.
“We’re required to update the LMS (local mitigation strategy) every five years, and through that review, we identified a variety of mitigation projects that can reduce all types of hazards, including flooding, in the County,” Bevan said, “Thanks to the hard work of Laura Nelson, the mitigation planner at Flagler County Emergency Management, the updated plan was approved by the State just in time for our review through the CRS.”
The City also gained points because of Flagler County’s efforts as a StormReady community, which is based on preparedness for severe weather. The City also worked with Flagler County to secure the StormReady designation for our community. Other point increases since the last rating change (in 2014) were for community outreach and in the open space category – protecting high-risk floodplains.
There are some pre-requisites required to reach a Class 4 that are fairly rare for a community to have, Bevan said. One is a watershed master plan. Palm Coast was fortunate that, because it was developed by ITT as a master plan community, a lot of the information needed for that plan was previously established.
“The whole program is about going above and beyond. This increased rating puts us in an elite class, and it is an honor for our organization and community,” said City Manager Jim Landon. “This new rating was the result of hard work and dedication by a number of people, especially our Floodplain Management Team led by Denise Bevan. They are commended for their outstanding work.”
To learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program and how it affects you, visit www.FloodSmart.gov.
Have questions or want to know your floodplain designation? Call Denise Bevan, City Administration Coordinator and floodplain administrator, at 386-986-2458.