National Flood Insurance Program

FEMA & the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

The genesis of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) originated from a need to coordinate a respond to disasters. Over time FEMA’s responsibilities have changed and new agencies have formed to directly address the risks involved in flooding. Today, FEMA continues to be the agency responsible for publishing Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) and the accompanying report or, Flood Insurance Study (FIS). These maps and information are used by local, state and the federal government as well as insurance providers to assess the risk of flooding.

In response to escalating costs to taxpayers for flood disaster relief, the federal government created the NFIP and began subsidizing flood insurance. In exchange for the availability of affordable flood insurance the federal government ensured that local governments were establishing and maintaining sound floodplain management policies and regulating their floodplain through NFIP initiatives. To comply with the program local governments must establish floodplain ordinances that meet NFIP criteria and regulate what takes place within any special flood hazard area defined as the area in the 1 percent-annual-chance floodplain.

County Involvement

As a participant in the NFIP, James City County (JCC) has undertaken different initiatives to comply with the Community Rating System (CRS) requirements. This is a voluntary program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP standards by reducing flood insurance premiums in that community. In 2013, FEMA upgraded JCC’s rating from Class 8 to Class 7, and residents now receive at 15 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums. Besides the benefit of reduced insurance rates, CRS floodplain management activities enhance public safety, reduce damages to property and public infrastructure, avoid economic disruption and losses, reduce human suffering and protect the environment.

One program requirement was to develop a Floodplain Management Plan and perform an annual update. The Peninsula Hazard Mitigation Plan identifies the potential hazards facing the region and the County including hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, winter storms, earthquakes and flooding. The Peninsula Hazard Mitigation Plan includes an assessment of the risks involved with these hazards and potential mitigation efforts that can be undertaken to minimize the losses associated with these hazards. Read JCC’s Floodplain Management Plan here.

Additional information on the CRS program can be found on the FEMA website.