Insurance relief for Apalachicolans

Homeowners in Apalachicola could be one step closer to enjoying lower flood insurance premiums now that the city has successfully closed out a floodplain management program review and received word that it is eligible to pursue entry into a national program which affords flood insurance policy owners lower premiums in exchange for the city implementing more flood resilient measures.

In an August 22 letter to Apalachicola Mayor Van Johnson, State Floodplain Manager Steve Martin said the city had successfully resolved issues noted in a 2015 floodplain program review, known as a Community Assistance Visit or CAV, and that the city is “appropriately and effectively implementing its floodplain management program in accordance with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).”

Martin said he now supports the city’s intent to participate in the CRS program based on the city’s effective implementation of its floodplain management program.

“The State Floodplain Management Office strongly encourages and supports Apalachicola’s interest to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS) that will help improve flood resiliency and reduce the cost of NFIP flood insurance for policy holders with structures in flood zones,” he wrote.

The NFIP Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program recognizing and encouraging community floodplain management activities that exceed the NFIP’s minimum standards. Any community that is in full compliance with the NFIP’s minimum floodplain management requirements may apply to join CRS.

Each CRS community is rated based on conformance to the NFIP regulations and demonstration of a comprehensive approach to floodplain management, including public awareness and vulnerability analysis. The lower the community CRS Class rating number from 10 to 1, the lower a community’s flood insurance rates. Apalachicola is currently rated a 10 because it is not currently in the CRS program. According to Martin, most communities new to the CRS program come in between 8 and 6.

If the city comes into the CRS program within those average rating scores, Apalachicola flood insurance policy owners could expect to see their premiums drop between 10 to 20 percent annually. Citywide, the community may expect to see savings between $20,000 and $40,000.

The cost savings to the citizens is welcome news to city officials.

"The commitment of the Apalachicola board of city commissioners to both enhance the quality of life for the residents of Apalachicola and to safeguard their financial interest has once again been amply demonstrated through our efforts to affect a decrease in the annual rate they pay for flood insurance,” said Johnson.

The next step forward is for the city to adopt the state’s seven performance measures and to submit the required documentation for evaluation by the State CRS administrators. If the city is successful in gaining entry into the program, the CRS designation could take effect as early as May 2018.

Apalachicola has been a part of the National Flood Insurance Program since 1983. There are a total of 254 flood insurance policies within the city.

Cindy Clark is the city planner for Apalachicola.