Each year, flooding causes millions of dollars’ worth of damage to homes and businesses. Standard homeowners and commercial property policies do not cover flood losses, so the National Flood Insurance Program was created in 1968. This allowed property owners to purchase insurance from the United States government that covers certain losses from flooding.
The Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary program of the National Flood Insurance Program designed to provide incentives in the form of premium discounts for communities which develop extra measures to provide protection from flooding. Communities are given ratings from 10 up to 1, based on adopted local regulations and practices.
Douglas County entered the CRS in 1995 under the tutelage of then Director of Engineering Wes Tallon, who had successfully implemented the program in Orange Beach, Alabama, which at that time was the smallest city in the Nation to achieve a Class 7 rating.
Douglas County was recently notified that it had attained a Class 7 rating based on its practices and procedures, including the provision of Elevation Certificates, Flood Insurance Maps, Floodplain Mapping, and Flood Protection Information. Douglas County received a total of 1577 credit points which results in a 15 percent discount of the premium cost of flood insurance for NFIP policies.
Any property owner in Douglas County may obtain flood insurance for their property regardless of its location. The property does not have to lie within a floodplain to be eligible for insurance. Flood insurance is available through many local insurance agents, and the 15 percent discount in premiums applies due to the County’s positive efforts.
For example, Douglas County does not allow the construction of habitable buildings within the 100-year floodplain of any waterway, and the elevation of habitable residential space above the floodplain must be a minimum of three feet. These types of policies protect residents and buildings because floodplain delineations are theoretical, at best, and streams go where they want and sometimes not where they are predicted.
Flood insurance is encouraged for properties near waterways that have a history of flooding, including Sweetwater Creek and Anneewakee Creek. James Worthington, Development Services Director, is in charge of the NFIP and CRS programs in the County. The Development Services Office on the 1st floor of the Douglas County Courthouse, 8700 Hospital Drive, houses the floodplain maps and local Code regulations, and its staff is available to meet with property owners to answer questions and provide information.