Effective May 1st, 2015, the next time homeowners on Tybee Island get their flood insurance bills, they should see an additional 10% discount over the 15% discount they were already seeing – a total 25% discount over flood insurance rates from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which sets the insurance rate subsidies for the federal government. The NFIP sets insurance discounts under its Community Rating System, which relies on communities to follow a series of steps to make sure damage to property and loss of life are mitigated in the event of a major hurricane or flooding event.
Tybee Island’s participation in the CRS is advocated and monitored by Community Rating System Coordinator Jimmy Brown. Mr. Brown has worked with various City departments and entities to make sure as many CRS “points” as possible are accrued. Tybee Island’s CRS rating has improved in the latest CRS verification from CRS-7 to CRS-5. Initiatives to reach this level have included:
- creation and archiving of elevation certificates for all new buildings and construction by the Planning and Zoning Department;
- publicizing and availability of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for residents, businesses, and builders, again by Planning and Zoning;
- several educational outreach efforts to make sure as many as possible know about all of these programs – the “Do You Know Your Potential to be Flooded” flier is kept online and distributed twice a year to residents with their utility bills;
- local real estate agents are required to inform potential buyers about flood hazards and insurance;
- providing advice on insurance, property protection and financial assistance for homeowners;
- cooperating on flood zone mapping with the Federal Emergency Management Agency;
- preserving or expanding open space and minimizing additional development in open spaces;
- digital monitoring and benchmarking of details of the flood plain areas;
- providing and enforcing storm water management and soil and erosion control regulations;
- cooperative adoption and implementation of the Chatham County Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation Plan;
- enforcement of flood damage prevention regulations;
- regular inspection and maintenance of drainage systems;
- providing advanced warning of dangerous flooding potential, including our severe weather siren system and Citizen Alert program; and,
- controlling community growth rates.
Reinforcing the city’s commitment to pursue further mitigation strategies, Tybee Island Mayor Jason Buelterman stated, “This change will provide a significant savings for our home owners, especially those who homes are below the base flood elevation or in the velocity zones close to our beach and waterways. We will continue to look for ways to mitigate any physical and financial damages that might result from storm flooding for our Tybee residents.”
Although a 25% discount over prevailing rates will be provided to homeowners in the Tybee area, it is important to note that there is a new fee added to insurance coverage bills. $25 from home-owners for their primary residence and $250 from home-owners for secondary residences will be added to the total – these fees are to make up the much larger increases that were originally proposed as part of the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012 and walked back by Congress later that same year. So the total cost of insurance will only reflect a portion of that additional 10% discount that these programs have provided.
FEMA programs, the NFIP, and the CRS programs are all described in more detail on Tybee’s Emergency Management page on the web at http://www.cityoftybee.org/EmergencyMgmt.aspx.