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Dayton Prepares to Adopt Federal Changes to Flood Insurance Program

Dayton City Council on Tuesday night heard the first reading of an amendment to its city ordinance that relates to flood damage prevention. The federal Biggert Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 was passed by Congress in July of that year and is prompting the changes.
A second reading and vote is scheduled for next month on the changes that relate to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)'s procedures in determining flood damage insurance mapping, premium rates and subsidies.
First, the amendment calls for the city to adopt FEMA's updated flood insurance rate maps. The last maps were released a decade ago, in 2004. Dayton's new map, according to Director of the Campbell County Municipal Planning and Zoning Commission Cindy Minter, is more accurate and reflects the topography of Dayton's riverfront in more detail, allowing for more accurate assessments of flood risk for riverfront properties.
Minter presented the new map and fielded questions from Dayton's City Council Tuesday night. 
The map, in part, differentiates between flood zones that face varying risks of flood damage. For instance, the "A-Zone," or 100-Year Floodplain, faces a 1% annual chance of flood damage (or, once per every hundred years). For some perspective, this translates roughly to a 26% chance of flood damage over the course of a 30-year mortgage. The new maps make these zones more clearly defined.
Beyond updating the maps, however, the implications of Biggert-Waters extend beyond clerical matters. According to NFIP literature, Biggert-Waters also "calls for the removal of certain subsidies provided to some policyholders and for rates to more accurately reflect risk." 
As a result, 2013 launched the phase-out period of all subsidies on flood damage insurance policies purchased through FEMA and the NFIP. Last year, policies held for non-primary residences (vacation homes, etc.), businesses, and residences with severe or repetitive flooding saw their subsidies cut by 25%. 
Beginning in 2014, all FEMA-subsidized policies will see a 25% annual reduction to these federal subsidies.
The enactment of these new policies falls in line with Dayton's Manhattan Harbour riverfront development, a 73-acre residential and business project that has been in the works for nearly a decade.
"As Manhattan Harbour has been developing, we were aware there would be map changes," Minter said. As a result, the city has required that the new luxury homes and commercial spaces planned for the development be built above the flood zone.
"I have to credit the City of Dayton and its management for thinking ahead," Minter said.
Mayor Ken Rankle, recognizing these policy changes as federal (and not municipal or state-enacted), called adopting the new flood insurance rate maps a matter of "records upkeep" for the city.
Dayton marks just one stop on Minter's "tour" through Campbell County, introducing municipal governments to their new flood maps. 
"Biggert-Waters impacts every community in Northern Kentucky with properties within the 100-year flood zone," Minter explained.
Carry flood damage insurance for your home? For more information on how Biggert-Waters will impact your flood damage insurance rates, consult your agent.
Written by Pat LaFleur, RCN contributor