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The Community Rating System: Is your community involved?

By: Niki Pace / Published: Feb 11,  2015

Most coastal residents are all too aware of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but they may know less about the Community Rating System (CRS). Through the CRS, communities participate in a variety of floodplain management actions that qualify their residents to receive discounts on flood insurance premiums. Most coastal communities in Mississippi participate in CRS, and many Alabama communities are involved as well.

In the last few years, the NFIP and CRS have undergone several changes, including the adoption of the 2013 CRS Coordinator’s Manual. This manual is important because it determines how participating communities are scored under the CRS program (and what corresponding flood insurance discounts they qualify for!).

The manual includes new requirements for communities including the Program for Public Information (PPI). A PPI is a committee-based localized approach to community outreach under the CRS. The objective of PPI is to provide communities with additional credit for outreach that is: (1) designed to meet local needs, and (2) monitored, evaluated, and revised to improve effectiveness. In other words, outreach activities coordinated through a PPI gain more CRS points than standalone outreach activity.

Through funding from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program, Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant and partners are working with coastal communities to provide technical guidance on forming a PPI. The team held our first training workshop on January 21, 2015 in LaCombe, Louisiana. The successful day-long workshop was led by French Wetmore of Wetmore & Associates and attended by 17 communities across Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.

I am leading the project along with partners at Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant, Louisiana Sea Grant, Grand Bay NERR, and BlueUrchin. Feel free to contact me if you’d like to learn more. 

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