W-B To Keep Current Flood Protection Rating
WILKES-BARRE — The city will retain its current flood protection rating, keeping it the highest-rated municipality in the state and guaranteeing continued flood insurance discounts for residents.
Mayor Tony George received a letter from Federal Emergency Management Agency this week notifying him that the city will continue to be a Class 6 community as defined in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating Service.
The Class 6 designation qualifies flood insurance policy holders in the city for a 20 percent discount in the premium costs for NFIP policies issued or renewed in Special Flood Hazard Areas, and a 10 percent discount in the premium costs for NFIP policies issued or renewed in Zone X areas protected by the levees.
“The premium savings incurred are (a) tangible result of the flood mitigation activities, taken by the city, to protect lives and reduce property damage,” according to a news release from George’s office.
The Community Rating System is a voluntary program in which participating municipalities work to increase their flood preparation level above minimum standards established by FEMA.
Municipalities can earn credit points for completing various tasks or initiating programs that lead to the municipality becoming more disaster resistant.
For example, the city earned some credit points for placing “high water mark” signs in neighborhoods in the Special Flood Hazard Area last year to educate the public about the potential for flooding should the levee system fail.
Class 6 status, which was first awarded in 2013, was based on the city having 2,188 credit points. In 2013, the city was 312 credit points shy of a Class 5 designation, which could qualify residents for a 25 percent discount. But FEMA changed the rating system in 2017, providing a new inches-thick manual and a new CRS coordinator to deal with, said city Planning and Zoning Director Bill Harris.
Harris coordinates the city’s flood mitigation plan efforts, working in conjunction with the mayor’s and administrator’s offices, the police, fire, operations and public works departments and Luzerne County hazard mitigation planners.
Attaining a Class 5 designation now would be “almost impossible,” Harris said.
But Wilkes-Barre’s Class 6 rating “continues to be the best rating in the state, with 34 CRS communities participating,” according to the mayor’s office.
The city will retain the Class 6 designation for five years if there are no NFIP noncompliance actions within that time.
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