WILKES-BARRE — The city is one of two in Pennsylvania to be awarded a Class 6 rating from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for its flood plan management efforts.
Harrisburg is the only other city in the state to have earned the ranking — the highest issued by FEMA.
Molly Kaput andNicole Lick of FEMA presented the award to city officials at a ceremony Tuesday at City Hall.
“The National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community flood plan management activities that exceed the NFIP requirements,” Kaput said. “A Class 6 award will result in a 20 percent discount on flood insurance premiums.”
Lick said flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS: reduce flood damage to insurable property, strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP and encourage a comprehensive approach to flood plain management.
Eligible city policyholders will realize an average saving of $231 per year on their insurance premiums, or a total of some $156,000 total for city residents, according to Kaput and Lick.
Mayor Tom Leighton accepted the award and commended Bill Harris, the city’s planning and zoning director and coordinator of the Community Rating System, for his hard work in assuring all city departments comply with the program’s criteria.
“This is a team effort,” Harris said. “Every department head contributed to this program’s success.”
The ratings are based on 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories: public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction and flood preparedness.
Under the program, FEMA assesses municipalities’ flood protection plans and evaluates each town’s activities. After reviewing the city’s overall flood management plan and maintenance of its system, FEMA improved the city’s rating from 7 to 6.
“Since I took office in 2004, we have had seven serious incidents of flooding and two lesser events,” Leighton said. “Because of our efforts, headed by Bill Harris, residents will pay less for their flood insurance.”
Kaput and Lick said Wilkes-Barre is now ranked “in the elite group,” not only in Pennsylvania, but nationally, as well.