By Mitch Paine, CFM
In our last edition of Floodplain Management Today, we discussed important things to know when looking to apply for the NFIP Community Rating System (CRS). In this and future editions, we’ll delve into some of the individual CRS elements and talk about what your community can do to both obtain CRS points and develop better floodplain management programs. For those communities who don’t participate in CRS, this can be a useful guide for floodplain map information that would be very useful to provide residents or businesses that call.
CRS Activity 320 credits what floodplain administrators or other community staff provide when community members call in and ask about floodplains and their property. Maps, such as FIRMs and other community maps, are very useful in showing residents and businesses the flood hazards in their area. Many maps, however, are difficult for the lay person to read and the community office is the best source for clarification and more information. The map-related information provided by communities can help people understand their own risk from flooding and can help bankers, insurance agents, and real estate agents understand the flood hazards for the properties they’re working with. Most communities, in addition to their FIRM, have other map information that can help residents and businesses learn more about special flood-related hazards, local drainage issues, and natural floodplain functions.
Nearly every community in Nebraska gets credit for this under the old 2007 CRS Coordinator’s Manual. But, under the 2013 CRS Coordinator's Manual, the points and their requirements have changed. Previously, 140 points were available, but now 90 points are available and they’re based upon the type of information that you give inquirers.
In order to obtain credit for 320 Map Information Service, there are a few criteria that your community must meet. Your community must at least provide basic FIRM information like flood zone, panel number, etc. The person providing the service at the city, village, or county must have a map that can locate street addresses to ensure that the correct property address is used. The service must be individualized, not just information on a website. Two other important criteria must be met as well: the service must be publicized to all residents annually and a log of service provided must be kept. If these are all met, then your community can get credit for the following areas.
Seven categories of points are available for credit, based upon what maps the community uses and the information provided to inquirers.
- Basic FIRM information (MI1) – communities can receive 30 points for providing basic information found on a FIRM like whether or not a property is in the special flood hazard area, the FIRM zone, and other elements of a FIRM.
- Additional FIRM information (MI2) – communities can receive 20 points for telling an inquirer if their property is in a floodway and providing information on the regulatory requirements for developing in a floodway.
- Problems not shown on the FIRM (MI3) – if a community provides information about other flood problems like local drainage issues or levee failure zones, then another 20 points can be obtained.
- Flood depth data (MI4) – communities can receive 20 points for providing inquirers the depth of flooding at their particular property in a 1% annual chance event. If a community has BFEs and an elevation certificate for the property, they may be able to give estimates on flood depths.
- Special flood-related hazards (MI5) – 20 points can be received for telling callers about any special flood-related hazards like uncertain flow paths, flooding in closed basin lakes, or ice jam flooding areas.
- Historical flood information (MI6) – 20 points can be received here for letting inquirers know if their property has been flooded in the past or providing historic flood levels for the community or area based upon high-water marks or other historical data.
- Natural floodplain functions (MI7) – communities can receive 20 points for telling callers about areas that should be protected for natural floodplain functions. These areas might be wetlands, endangered species critical habitat, or areas getting credit under CRS element 420 (Open Space Preservation).
Maps like NeDNR’s Interactive Map can be used to obtain much of this information to get credit for 320 Map Information Service. Other maps like the National Wetland Inventory, the USACE ice jam monitoring websites, and locally-produced maps of flood hazard areas are all very useful tools to provide your residents and businesses with the best information about their flood risk.
For CRS credit, communities will have to document how you publicize the service each year, will have to provide the log of services provided, and at each verification visit every 5 years, communities will have to show the CRS specialist all FIRMs since 1999. Credit is provided up to 90 points for 320 Map Information Service.
And, if you have any other questions or want assistance with CRS, contact Katie Ringland at NeDNR at Katie.Ringland@nebraska.gov or 402-471-2094.