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USA - Coastal Flood Resilience Project Issues White Paper Entitled 'Reforming the Community Rating System'

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9 - The Coastal Flood Resilience Project has issued a 12-page white paper on Oct. 1, 2021, entitled: "Reforming the Community Rating System Within the National Flood Insurance Program".

The Coastal Flood Resilience Project is a coalition of organizations working for stronger programs to prepare for coastal storm flooding and rising sea level in the United States. This White Paper describes needed reforms to the Community Rating System (CRS) and within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The White Paper responds to a request from public comment on the CRS by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Introduction

The NFIP allows local communities to adopt local ordinances to reduce flooding based on FEMA regulations. In communities participating in the Program, property owners are eligible to buy federal flood insurance policies and some property owners, such as those with federally sponsored mortgages, are required to have flood insurance.

Under the CRS, local governments that participate in the NFIP are eligible to take measures, in addition to those minimum measures required by FEMA regulations for NFIP participation, to further strengthen flood resilience. A menu of measures is described in the CRS Manual and each measure is assigned points that sum to a total score. The total score is used to determine a percentage discount that NFIP policyholders receive on their annual premiums (i.e., up to 40 percent discount).

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Read the full report at https://www.regulations.gov/comment/FEMA-2021-0021-0176

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Although the CRS has encouraged the adoption of flood resilience measures beyond minimally required measures in many communities, the program is not prepared to meet the challenges of a changing climate and needs major reform.

Key recommended changes to the CRS, focused on the coastal flood resilience and sea level rise aspects of the program, are:

1. Shift Selected CRS Measures to NFIP Local Ordinances: To meet the increasing coastal flood risks associated with a changing climate, FEMA should shift key voluntary CRS measures into the local flood management ordinances required for NFIP participation.

2. Add New CRS Measures Addressing Sea Level Rise and Relocation: As CRS measures shift to local ordinances, FEMA should add new measures to the CRS to address more severe storms and rising seas and increase credits associated with existing measures in this area.

3. Address Social Justice Challenges in CRS: Wealthy communities are better able to manage the administrative burdens of the CRS program than are less wealthy communities and costs of premium discounts are paid by policyholders in non-CRS communities. FEMA should propose that Congress pay CRS program costs from direct appropriations outside of the NFIP and significantly increase CRS program assistance to disadvantaged communities.

Background: Coastal Flooding and Sea Level Rise

The Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Pacific coasts are home to over 100 million Americans. The population living right along the coast (i.e., at elevations of 33 feet and lower) is expected to double by 2060 to about 44 million. Climate change poses a significant risk to the coast through the combined impacts of more severe storms bringing temporary flooding and permanent inundation by rising seas.

Read more.