Memo-07-12-2016-Item10

July 12, 2016

MEMO TO:           Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:                  Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:           Presentation – Impact of New Flood Insurance Rate Maps on Emerald Isle Property Owners 

The Board of Commissioners is scheduled to receive a presentation from Josh Edmondson, Town Planner, regarding the new flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) recently released by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and NC Floodplain Mapping Program (NCFMP).  I have attached copies of the new FIRMs, which can also be accessed in great detail at  http://fris.nc.gov/fris/ .

FIRMs are used to implement flood damage prevention requirements for new construction, and are also used to determine flood insurance premiums through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  The FIRMs currently used in Emerald Isle were last updated in 2003 and 2005.  The new FIRMs were just released for public review on June 30, include a public appeal process, and likely won’t be effective until sometime in 2017 or perhaps into 2018.  The new maps are favorable for most Emerald Isle property owners, and should reduce the cost of flood insurance premiums and the regulatory burden for many in the future.  There are, however, some property owners who may be negatively impacted by the new FIRMs. 

The attached memo from Josh Edmondson includes a thorough explanation of this issue, and his PowerPoint presentation is also attached.  Sherry Edwards, Emerald Isle Insurance, will also attend the meeting and will be available to answer any questions about the potential impact of the new FIRMs on flood insurance premiums.

To briefly summarize:

  • according to the new FIRMs, there are a total of 1,364 structures in Emerald Isle in a special flood hazard area (approximately 20% of structures in Emerald Isle),

  • there is no change in the flood zone or base flood elevation for the vast majority of structures and parcels in Emerald Isle,

  • overall, there is a net reduction of 511 structures from a special flood hazard area (V zone or A zone) in Emerald Isle,

  • a net total of 694 structures have been removed from the V zone, which is the most restrictive zone with the highest flood insurance premiums

    • most of these are removed from a special flood hazard area altogether (thus no special building regulations or requirements for flood insurance) and some are switched to the A zone

    • this change will likely result in a significant reduction in flood insurance premiums for these property owners

    • improved dune structures, ultimately resulting from past beach nourishment efforts, are one factor contributing to the removal of many oceanfront structures from the V zone,

  • a net total of 183 structures have been added to the A zone, which is less restrictive than V and with more affordable flood insurance premiums,

  • based on Josh Edmondson’s analysis, a total of 99 structures have been added to a special flood hazard area, with 9 added to the V zone and 90 added to the A zone (list of all 99 structures is attached)

    • these properties may now be required to carry flood insurance

    • in some cases, the structure may already meet the flood zone requirements as is

    • we recommend that these property owners secure an elevation certificate via a local surveyor and/or purchase a flood insurance policy before new FIRMs are effective in order to secure grandfathered or preferred risk premiums,

  • based on Josh Edmondson’s analysis, an additional 56 structures are potentially negatively impacted by the new FIRMs, either as a result of switching from the A zone to the V zone, or due to a slight increase in the required base flood elevation

    • in some cases, the structure may already meet the new flood zone requirements as is

    • these structures may be eligible for grandfathered premiums, and therefore should not experience a significant negative impact.

I have also attached several information sheets produced by the NFIP that may also be helpful in understanding the impact of the new FIRMs, and also the impacts of the 2012 Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act and the 2014 Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (both acts impact flood insurance premiums associated with new FIRMs).  Sheet 1, Sheet 2, Sheet 3

Again, overall, the new FIRMs appear to mostly positive for Emerald Isle property owners, however, a relatively small number may be negatively impacted.  Of those structures that are negatively impacted by the new FIRMs, many likely already meet the flood requirements and therefore should not experience significant flood insurance premiums.  Others that are negatively impacted should be eligible for grandfathered premiums, thus minimizing the amount of any flood insurance premium increases.  Additionally, some others may not have a mortgage, and are thus not required to carry flood insurance and may simply choose not purchase flood insurance in the future. 

I appreciate Josh Edmondson’s hard work assessing this issue for our property owners, and look forward to his presentation on July 12.  Josh and I are happy to assist any affected Emerald Isle property owners in any way that may be helpful in the future.