While I couldn’t be there in person to present the Community Rating System plaque to the City of Altoona Commissioners during their recent meeting, I did want to recognize that as of October 1, 2012 the City of Altoona joined an elite group of communities across the country who are going above and beyond the minimum requirements to make their communities safer from flood risk.
For a bit of background, the National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. Communities that participate in Community Rating System have flood insurance premium rates discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions. Throughout the United States, there are well over 20,000 communities voluntarily participating in FEMA's NFIP, with 2,469 of these communities located in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Nationally, a relative handful (approximately 5%) of these communities choose to go above and beyond FEMA's minimum requirements for NFIP participation. These communities make up the members of the Community Rating System; and their additional efforts and activities result in communities that are safer and better prepared for future flooding events. In joining the Community Rating System program, the City of Altoona joins an elite group of only 24 communities in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (the top 1%) that have been recognized for surpassing the minimum requirements to make their communities safer. I would like to recognize the achievements of the City of Altoona because, as of October 1 last year, they joined the community Rating System with a Class 8 rating.
Perhaps more tangible and more important to Altoona’s citizens, the Class 8 rating qualifies all flood insurance policies in Altoona for an automatic ten percent discount on their premiums. Each NFIP policyholder in Altoona will save an average of $77.00 on their annual premium. As of January 31, 2013, there were 218 flood insurance policies in Altoona protecting over $30 million in property for a total premium cost of $191,458. The ten percent reduction will save the flood policyholders in the City collectively approximately $16,697 annually. There is no need for policyholders to contact their insurance carriers as the ten percent discount is deducted automatically from their premiums.
Jane Beveridge, the Office Engineer/Floodplain Administrator for Altoona commented on the benefits the Community Rating System can bring a community:
While it was a two years process, most municipalities are already following/adopting procedures that can earn rating system points. It’s mostly a matter of gathering paperwork. The Community Rating System Specialist assigned to the City of Altoona was also very helpful. Our updated website has floodplain information/links that have earned us easy points toward the ranking system. Every community should take advantage of this, especially with the rising costs of insurance, our citizens are thankful.
The City of Altoona’s leadership, hard work and accomplishments are to be commended. On behalf of FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program, welcome to elite status and thank you!