Atlanta, GA -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today informed Monroe County officials that the unincorporated areas of the county may soon be placed on probationary status with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) due to ongoing deficiencies in the local floodplain management program.
Probation will begin May 31, 2002, according to FEMA officials who oversee the NFIP, unless the county takes measures prior to that date to bring its floodplain management program into compliance with minimum NFIP requirements and begins to address all identified violations of its flood damage prevention ordinance.
Probation will not affect the availability of flood insurance for property owners in the county, but a $50 surcharge will be added to the premium for each new or renewed flood insurance policy sold within unincorporated Monroe County. This surcharge will be in place for a period of one year or for the duration of the probationary period, whichever is longer.
The probationary notice -- signed by Kenneth O. Burris, Jr., Regional Director, FEMA Region IV -- cited specific deficiencies in the county's floodplain management efforts, including inadequate enforcement that has resulted in as many as 2,000-4,000 illegal enclosures constructed under elevated buildings. The notice specifies actions required of the county to avoid probation and potential suspension from the NFIP.
The NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to property owners in communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances that are designed to reduce future flood losses by regulating new construction. FEMA officials are concerned that the county's failure to adequately administer and enforce its local floodplain management program results in increased exposure to flood risk.
Burris said FEMA viewed the probation action as a serious step in enforcing standards for safer construction in flood hazard areas.
"Placing a community on probation is a notification to that community that it is regarded as noncompliant with NFIP criteria and that the deficiencies and violations are serious enough that they could lead to eventual suspension from the program," he said.
If Monroe County ultimately were to be suspended from the NFIP, then flood insurance coverage, some forms of federal disaster assistance and other federal grants and loans would no longer be available within the community.
"This is significant because property owners would not be insured for flood losses resulting from a hurricane," Burris said.
FEMA's regional office in Atlanta will continue to work closely with local officials to provide technical assistance and consultation to Monroe County to help it remedy the violations and achieve compliance with the minimum requirements of the NFIP, he said.
The NFIP in unincorporated Monroe County has 28,799 flood insurance policies in force, representing more than $4 billion in property coverage. Since 1978 FEMA has paid $42,196,658 for 7,376 claims on flooded property. The program is self-supporting; claims and operating expenses are paid from premium income, not from taxpayer dollars. It is estimated that NFIP building standards prevent approximately $1 billion in nationwide flood damage annually.