Cheaper St. John flood insurance possible

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, December 9, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Many St. John the Baptist Parish residents and business owners receive a 10-percent discount on flood insurance, and report findings expected in May could result in an even larger reduction.

Parish Director of Planning and Zoning Angelic Sutherland Keller reviewed the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System at a recent St. John Parish Council meeting.

CRS is a voluntary program for recognizing and encouraging community floodplain management activities exceeding the minimum NFIP standards, and any community in full compliance with NFIP management requirements may apply to join the CRS. 

Under the CRS, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reward community actions that meet the goals of CRS.

The CRS uses a class rating system to determine flood insurance premium reductions for residents. CRS classes are rated from 9 to 1, with a 1 receiving the highest discount. 

St. John Parish is at a class 8 rating, which means parish residents in special flood hazard areas receive a 10 percent discount on their annual premium. 

“We commend the parish for its CRS activities, which are above and beyond the minimum requirements of NFIP participation,” Frank Pagano, FEMA Mitigation Division Director, said. 

Keller said a community accrues points to improve its CRS class rating and receive higher discounts for engaging in any creditable activities, organized under four categories: public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction and warning and response. 

“Communities that participate in CRS undergo a recertification every five years,” Keller said. “Our office is currently going through this recertification, which should be completed around May of 2015.”

Keller said her office met with FEMA officials in November. She told the Council the parish would have a one-year time frame to seek modifications of the findings.

According to FEMA documents, “each CRS class improvement produces a five percent greater discount on flood insurance premiums for properties in the special flood hazard areas.”

According to the St. John Parish website, over 87 percent of the parish has been designated by FEMA as special flood hazard areas, which are designated as Zones A and V.

Zone A is referred to as the “100 year floodplain,” meaning this is an area that will be flooded on the average of once every 100 years, with a 1 percent chance of being flooded in any given year. Zone V is an area where wave action is likely to occur over and above the flooding, and the areas along the shore of Lakes Maurepas and Pontchartrain are designated as V zones.