Council reviews flood insurance

Published 10:13 pm Saturday, May 16, 2015

Washington’s City Council wants time to study the Pamlico Sound Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan before signing off on it.

The council had been scheduled to possibly approve the plan during its meeting last week, but opted to table any action regarding the plan until it had time to review the document that has a little more than 350 pages.

John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural services, said the plan’s strategies that apply to the city and Beaufort County “seem reasonable.” Rodman said that by adopting the plan, the council could be helping property owners in the city.

“They also published our Community Rating System (score). Currently, within the municipalities in those counties that I mentioned, we have the second-best Community Rating System (score). Adopting that regional plan will help with that Community Rating System (score) and be able offer cheaper rates on flood insurance to citizens,” Rodman said.

Rodman suggested the city adopt the plan.

Councilman Doug Mercer contended council members, who received of copies of the council’s agenda about five days before the May 11 meeting, did not have enough time to study the plan before the council meeting. The agenda directed council members to a website where they could review the plan, he noted.

“I went to that website. This document is 358 pages long. I got through about half of it. When Councilman (Bobby) Roberson and I talked earlier today (May 11), I was on page 166, and I was reading things on that page that the city was going to be committed to do, and honestly think that there’s no one — in fact, Mr. Roberson said he hadn’t read the whole document — in this room that has read that document to the point that we could vote on it,” said Mercer, who then made the motion to table the issue until June.

That motion was unanimously approved.

Roberson asked Rodman who would be responsible for enforcing the plan’s Community Rating System elements.

Rodman said the city would be responsible for enforcing the parts of the plan that apply to the city. He noted Beaufort County does not participate in the Community Rating System.

“They (the county) need to get a program. They could lower their (flood) insurance rating if they would step up,” Roberson said.

Currently, Washington property owners are receiving a 15-percent discount on their National Flood Insurance Program premiums because the city has one of the best floodplain-management programs in North Carolina. In 2012, Washington was recognized for operating a top-notch floodplain-management program. Washington residents have some of the lowest flood-insurance premiums in North Carolina.

Beaufort County received a request from N.C. Emergency Management to participate in a regional hazard mitigation plan that includes the county and its municipalities, along with Craven, Carteret and Pamlico counties. The plan, which cost the city no money to develop, received preliminary approval by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which recommends all jurisdictions covered by the plan adopt it.

Participation in a certified plan is required for the receipt of annual FEMA grants and public-assistance funding in the aftermath of a declared natural disaster such as a hurricane or tornado.

The plan was prepared with assistance from Holland Consulting Planners, which works with many counties in eastern North Carolina.

Such plans are required to be updated every five years. The change to the regional approach is expected to reduce the cost and burden placed on communities in regard to the update process, according to a memorandum from Rodman to the mayor and City Council.

Hazard mitigation focuses on preventing, or at least minimizing, natural disasters.






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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