The Thurston County Board of Commissioners in October adopted the Thurston County Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan, which benefits Thurston County’s environment and economy by protecting against flood hazards and lowering insurance premiums.
The Thurston Regional Planning Council (TRPC) helped the County develop the plan and sought opportunities to align its goals, policies, and mitigation initiatives with Sustainable Thurston Goal PS-2: Create a resilient region by improving disaster preparedness, response, and recovery efforts, as well as by expanding public safety education.
Thurston County developed the plan to follow as closely as feasible flood-planning guidelines in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System (FEMA CRS), which establishes criteria for community activities and programs that go beyond minimum requirements for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
The Community Rating System uses a 1 through 10 scale (Class 1 = best; Class 10 = basic) to rate communities and determine flood insurance premiums. Most communities enter the program at a CRS Class 9 or 8 rating, which entitles policy holders in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) to a 5 or 10 percent discount, respectively, on their flood insurance premiums, according to FEMA. As communities engage in additional flood mitigation activities and reach a higher CRS class, policy holders become eligible for bigger discounts. The takeaway: Solid planning saves money.
In October 2016, Thurston County documented sufficient CRS credit and met minimum prerequisites to achieve a Class 2 rating. There are just six Class 2 or better communities in the nation — including King, Pierce, and Thurston counties.
The Class 2 rating entitles flood insurance policy holders in the FEMA 100-year Special Flood Hazard Areas a 40 percent discount on their premiums and a 10 percent discount applicable to all other flood policies. As of 2016, Thurston County’s enrollment in CRS has resulted in the following flood insurance savings:
Thurston County’s development regulations and land use codes prohibit new development in areas prone to flooding, so the CRS program principally benefits homeowners and businesses that located in flood-prone areas prior to the county’s current land use codes.
The Thurston County Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan identifies 20 mitigation initiatives that reduce losses and protect public health and safety, infrastructure, the environment, and the economy. The initiatives fall into seven categories:
Flooding will continue to pose immense challenges for our region, so TRPC’s companion Thurston Climate Adaptation Plan identifies actions to prepare for and adjust to flood hazards exacerbated by rising sea levels, intensifying storms, and other climate impacts [See story, pg. 10]. Together, hazard mitigation and adaptation planning will help make the region more resilient and sustainable.
For more information, visit www.trpc.org/floodplan.