City program honored

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, September 13, 2012

Washington’s floodplain-management program is among the best in North Carolina, according to the National Flood Insurance Program.
As a testament to the program’s effectiveness, the city was presented a plaque by the N.C. Division of Emergency Management’s floodplain program. The presentation was made by Maureen O’Shea, the NFIP planner for eastern North Carolina, during the City Council’s meeting Monday.
City Manager Josh Kay and city building inspectors Wayne Harrell and Allen Pittman accepted the plaque for the city.
“I want to commend John Rodman, Allen Pittman and Wayne Harrell for the work they do in our inspections department,” Kay said.
The inspections department is part of the city’s planning and development department, which administers the city’s floodplain-management program.
Congress created NFIP in 1968. It is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Because private insurance companies were not able to afford or offer flood insurance, the federal government set up NFIP, O’Shea told the council.
“With the NFIP, people who are most at risk of damage due to flooding, they purchase insurance, and when flooding occurs, the cost of recovery is at least partially covered by the insurance program,” she said.
For Washington to participate in NFIP, it had to establish, administer and enforce a floodplain-management program that meets or exceeds the minimum standards established by the NFIP, O’Shea said, adding that NFIP participation is voluntary.
“That participation allows local citizens to obtain affordable flood insurance through NFIP, as well as receive most other state and federal disaster assistance,” she said.
The city entered the emergency phase of NFIP on Oct. 6, 1972, said O’Shea, adding that the city entered the regular program on Feb. 2, 1977.
Currently, there are 1,289 flood-insurance policies in force in the city with more than $200 million in coverage, she said. Since 1972, NFIP has paid more than $11.5 million for 900 flood losses in the city, O’Shea noted.
In 1990, FEMA began the Community Rating System as a way of evaluating those communities that have adopted floodplain-management practices that exceed the minimum standards. NFIP provides lower flood-insurance premiums as an incentive for communities to implement those stronger practices.
“In return for good floodplain-management practices, the Community Rating System has rated the City of Washington as a Class 7 community. Therefore, residents and business owners receive a 15-percent discount on premiums for standard flood-insurance policies inside the special flood-hazard area,” O’Shea said. “This means that insurance premiums in Washington are among the lowest in North Carolina. The 1,057 standard policy holders in the city will receive over $134,000 in savings over the next year.”
O’Shea said the following items provided the city with CRS credits that helped it earn recognition for its floodplain-management program:
• Maintaining copies of elevation certificates in perpetuity;
• Proving flood-zone information to people who ask for it;
• Educating the pubic about flood insurance by mailing brochures and setting up displays in public buildings;
• Requiring final subdivision plans to include flood-hazard information;
• Preserving open space in flood zones;
• Enforcing regulations regarding soil and erosion control and drainage-system maintenance.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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