STONE HARBOR – The borough stands ready not only to regain its Level 5 rating when it comes to flood insurance, it now potentially qualifies for a Level 4 rating, the Borough Council was told at its Feb. 6 work session.
Ray Poudrier, Stone Harbor’s Community Rating System coordinator, who delivered the report, added that achieving a Level 3 ranking is within the realm of possibility.
Each step in the CRS ranking system, from the lowest rating at 9 to the highest at 1, gains property owners a 5% discount on national flood insurance premiums. Regaining a Level 5 means returning the borough to a 25% discount; it most recently was at Level 7. Achieving a Level 3 would increase the discount to 35%.
The borough had long been at CRS Level 5, but dropped to Level 7 in April 2023, when CRS points earned following Superstorm Sandy expired after a 10-year life span.
For a little longer than a year, Poudrier worked with a borough committee supported by staff from DeBlasio & Associates, the municipal engineering firm, to regain the Level 5 status. Through changes to its flood plain ordinance, alterations in its construction inspection and permitting procedures and an improved public education effort, the borough has tentatively gained enough new points to regain its Level 5 status.
The point total has been reported to the Federal Emergency Management Agency by a consulting group, but the total will remain tentative until FEMA itself completes a review of its consultant’s work.
Poudrier said the points identified to date should qualify the borough for a higher, Level 4 status and, if still more points could be gained, a Level 3 designation.
FEMA requires that the borough first complete a community assistance visit from the agency to confirm its return to Level 5. Following that, Poudrier said, the borough could seek a modification visit to move beyond Level 5 to either Level 4 or 3.
The council commended the CRS team for a turnaround in its flood management and resiliency programs. Jumping two levels, from a 7 to a 5, is seldom accomplished in the CRS program; one level at a time is the more common advance.
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