The Clewiston News

City could help curb flood insurance costs

Commissioners approved a resolution that could save residents up to 45 percent on mandatory flood insurance.

The Community Rating System (CRS) is a program implemented by the National Flood Insurance Program that encourages communities to engage in certain floodplain management activities.

Those activities include annually conducting tours to make sure new development is consistent with floodplain requirements, such as making sure buildings are at or above the base flood elevation; developing and implementing a flood zone permit application checklist; confirming the accuracy of elevation certificates; and sending letters to fuel tank and heating, ventilation and air conditioning contractors to make sure they are installing their systems at or above base flood elevation; among other things.

If the city can become part of the CRS it could save residents who are federally mandated to purchase flood insurance up to 45 percent on their insurance costs, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Building and Development Director Travis Reese said the city has already accomplished or begun implementing some of the requirements of the program.

Commissioners approved the resolution to join the CRS at their last regular meeting on Dec. 21.
Despite their willingness to approve the resolution, commissioners were still unhappy about the city being labeled a flood zone by FEMA.

One of the main reasons the city was placed in a flood zone was because the Army Corps of Engineers has not yet certified the Herbert Hoover Dike.

Though the Army Corps continues work to reinforce the earthen dam, it could take several more years until repairs are finished on this side of Lake Okeechobee.

The South Florida Water Management District did agree to add language within the cooperative agreement with the city of Clewiston for the S-169 structure saying the structure will provide flood protection to the area.

The S-169 structure is located near the Clewiston Boat Basin and provides access to the levee area from the boat basin parking lot. The structure is currently outdated and Water Management plans to not only replace the structure but relocate it further west.

Though Water Management has agreed to say the new structure will provide flood protection, there is no guarantee the language would be enough to change FEMA’s mind about Clewiston’s flood zone status.
A new study would also have to be conducted in order to redetermine the city’s flood risk.

“We have to accept that we’re in a flood zone. It’s very difficult to change a map,” said Reese.