By NATHAN GREGORY
Starkville residents who live in floodplains will soon have some help with their insurance rates as a result of the city being accepted into the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System.
City Planner Ben Griffith says the Federal Emergency Management Association-led effort allows residents in floodplains who have insurance to receive a 5 percent discount from their rates.
“FEMA and the flood insurance industry have worked together over the years and they’ve come up with this Community Rating System. The community ... has to adopt a minimum standard and ... floodplain maps.
The Community Rating System sets a higher standard,” Griffith said. “If you do above and beyond the minimum — depending on how much you do — the better your rating. The better job you’re doing of preventing floods and minimizing flood damage and doing mitigation planning to prevent it in the future, the better your rating. The better your rating, the better the discount on folks that have to get flood insurance.”
Griffith said the opportunity was possible due to the city’s updating of its floodplain map in 2010 to an aerial view.
"Part of that adoption was adopting the floodplain maps that are prepared by FEMA. They’re called flood insurance rate maps. They show floodplain areas around the city. The National Flood Insurance Program ... acts as an underwriter for folks that live within or have commercial property within a floodplain area. By participating in the National Flood Insurance Program they’re able to purchase flood insurance at a reduced rate as opposed to buying it on the open insurance market,” Griffith said. “Now we have an aerial map so you can see rooftop and your street and all the features so it’s a lot easier to pinpoint the exact location. The last maps were done in the late 80s with some revisions in late 80s and early 90s. They were what we call an area map. That map only had major roads so it was kind of hard to identify where your exact property was. A lot of folks were ignorant of where exactly the property was in relation to the floodplain maps. The new maps have made it a lot easier to identify who’s in and who’s out.”
Griffith said on a scale of 1 to 10, the city has been awarded the rating of a 9. Each rating number on the scale brings residents an additional 5-percent discount than the one higher than it. Griffith said he hopes to be able to help lower the rating in future years so residents can see better savings.
“It’s on the higher end, but first time out I think that’s pretty good because we know about where we are and where we need to work from,” he said.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said through participating with NFIP, the city is at an advantage.
“Ben has done an excellent job with flood plain management over the last several years. Because of his hard work, our citizens who have flood insurance will now be eligible for a rate reduction through their participation with the National Flood Insurance Program.”
For more information on flood mapping projects, go to http://www.geology.deq.ms.gov/floodmaps/status.htm .