Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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CMCo Fears Widespread Impact of New Flood Insurance Rates

Flood waters

By Al Campbell

CREST HAVEN – “This is really frightening what’s going to happen to flood insurance rates,” County Commissioner E. Marie Hayes told the Board of County Commissioners Sept. 28. 
Hayes cited a resolution that she had County Counsel Jeffrey Lindsay prepare to urge the state to study the socio-economic impact of premiums and risk rating to barrier island property owners and othersin Cape May County. The resolution passed unanimously. 
The risk rating went into effective Oct. 1 for new flood insurance policies, and April 1, 2022, for existing policy renewals.
The resolution noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) “has not disclosed a comprehensive analysis of the expected impacts of implementing Risk Rating 2.0, nor has this change inmethodology been fully vetted and analyzed by experts.”
The document expressed concern that the risk rating “will not only impact (the county) but will also cause insurance costs to increase substantially in low-income communities throughout the state, which are among our last bastions of affordable homeownership in New Jersey.”
Finally, the resolution states the board’s concern that “Risk Rating 2.0 will lead to a considerable number of lapsed insurance policies, which would lead to a catastrophic scenario for the state in the event of a hurricane or other natural disaster.”
The resolution, which will be sent to Gov. Phil Murphy, seeks a study of the implications that will stem from the (FEMA’s) change of methodology in calculating insurance rates.
“We are a county surrounded by water. Don’t think for one minute that these insurance rates, the way that they’re going to be calculated, are not going to affect you,” Hayes, an Ocean City resident, continued. 
Hayes asked the resolution be sent to 20 other counties in the state since all will be affected.
“Quite frankly, we have been battling with this now for years,” said Board Director Gerald Thornton. “Believe me; this issue will destroy the value of property, especially on the barrier islands, so this is a good resolution,”he added.
“In doing my research,” Lindsay began, “it’s going to extend beyond the barrier, coastal communities into the low-income urban areas, as well. It’s going to impact the entire state.”
“What a lot of people don’t realize is it also impacts on rivers and streams and everything else. It’s not just the barrier islands,” said Thornton. 
“This is major,” he added.
According to a FEMA April 1 news release, “The 21st-century rating system, Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action, provides actuarially sound rates that are equitable and easy to understand. It transforms a pricing methodology that has not been updated in 50 years by leveraging improved technology and FEMA’s enhanced understanding of flood risk.
“The new pricing methodology is the right thing to do. It mitigates risk, delivers equitable rates, and advances the agency’s goal to reduce suffering after flooding disasters,” stated David Maurstad, senior executive of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. “Equity in Actionis the generational change we need to spur action now in the face of changing climate conditions, build individual and community resilience, and deliver on the Biden administration’s priority of providing equitable programs for all.”
Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day
The county’s observance of state-designated Oct. 6 as “Knock Out Opioid Abuse Day” was noted in a resolution offered by Commissioner Jeffrey Pierson. 
“It’s a damn shame,” he said, after noting 63 in-county deaths in 2020 due to opioid overdosescompared with 47 in 2018.
“We’ve gone plus 16 since that timeframe,” said Pierson. “In my mind, this can be attributed to Covid and the activities that are going on.”
The resolution cited raising awareness of the potential for becoming addicted to prescribed pain medicine and its link to heroin use, reducing the stigma of addiction, and the need for recovery support.
In other actions, the board:
Appointed Patricia Gentile, of Sea Isle City, to the county’s Women’sAdvisory Commission for a three-year term that expires Sept. 24, 2024.
Recognized Oct. 6 as Energy Efficiency Day in the county. The resolutionurged residents to support clean energy goals. It cited Atlantic CityElectric’s launch of a suite of energy efficiency programs that provide tools for users to take control of their energy use.
Approved a $19,835 contract to Advanced Security Technologies LLA,of Closter, for modular vehicle physical anti-ramming barriers for theCounty Prosecutor’s Office. They are reportedly capable of stopping a25,000-pound vehicle.
Accepted the proposal of Gibson Associates P.A. for $571,920 forconstruction engineering services for Pacific Avenue (CR621), in WildwoodCrest, resurfacing improvement project.
County Engineer Robert Church reported he received correspondence from the state that the county will receive about $3 million in “Local Bridges Future Needs” funding next year. That will be nearly the same as the current funding for bridges from the state, he said.

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