By Maddy Vitale
Somers Point property owners with flood insurance will be pleased when they see a 30 percent discount by the spring of 2019, if all goes as planned.
City engineer Greg Schneider has been working with City Council, specifically Councilman Howard Dill, and City Administrator Wes Swain, to help improve the city’s Community Rating, which is determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In turn, flood insurance policy holders will save money.
“By making improvements, it allows the city to be more resilient for storm events and to save money for residents who have flood insurance,” Schneider said in a phone interview Monday. “FEMA is rewarding the city for being progressive and trying to mitigate storm events and reduce damages.”
Savings are determined through FEMA’s Community Rating System. Currently, the city is a Class 5, resulting in a 25 percent discount for policy holders. Once all requirements are met, the city will become a Class 4, which would result in an additional discount of 5 percent, Schneider said.
The city can earn points and improve its ratings through public information, warning and response, mapping and flood damage reduction.
City Council’s adoption of a Watershed Management Plan earlier this year was crucial to improving the city’s community rating, Schneider explained.
He said Stockton University looked at different storm events, combined with the tides, to pinpoint where the city is most vulnerable to flooding. The study was covered with Hurricane Sandy relief funds.
Somers Point is bound by water on three sides: the Patcong Creek to the west, Great Egg Harbor Bay and Ship Channel to the south, and Steelman Bay to the east.
Another area the city is using to bolster its rating is a 25-year design review for new developments. A developer seeking approval to build on an acre or more would have to show proof that there would be adequate ways to deal with runoff, such as a water basin, in a 25-year storm. Some shore towns use the 50-year storm or 100-year storm requirements, Schneider said.
He said that the more rigorous 25-year storm requirement is needed for a community to achieve a Class 4 rating. The ordinance was introduced at the Oct. 25 City Council meeting and will be up for adoption in November.
“We will go for a second reading on the ordinance next month and the code will be changed. Then we will determine what additional points we need for a Class 4, but that is one of the requirements to have,” he said.
According to city figures for 2018, flood insurance policies insure $221 million in property and paid more than $806,000 in premiums. In May of 2018, work by city officials helped 951 property owners with federal flood insurance receive a savings of $160,000.
The Class 4 rating would amount to about $40,000 more in savings beginning May 1, 2019, city officials said. He is a member of the Master Plan Steering Committee and has worked closely with Schneider and Swain on getting the application to FEMA.
Mayor Jack Glasser said, “I have full confidence in Greg Schneider, Councilman Dill and our City Administrator Wes Swain to take all the actions needed to move the City the direction needed to improve our rating.”
For more information visit the City of Somers Point website at www.somerspointgov.org.