By Jai-Leen James, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Just in time for hurricane season, the city of Miami Beach received an improved score from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Miami Beach’s Community Rating System improved to a Class 5 rating. The upgrade makes Miami Beach one of just two cities in the county to achieve that status.
FEMA’s Community Rating System is a voluntary incentive program that acknowledges and rewards community flood management endeavors.
Premium flood insurance rates are discounted if the community is able to support the National Flood Insurance Program, enforce an effective floodplain management strategy and reduce flood damage. Miami Beach’s participation in the NLIP makes flood insurance readily available to all city residents.
CRS Classes 1 – 10 qualify for certain discounts within their flood zone. Starting May 1st, flood insurance savings will increase from 20 to 25 percent citywide. The estimated savings are expected to grow from $6.6 million to $8.3 million annually.
“Three years ago, we pursued an aggressive goal to improve our ranking from a Class 6 to a Class 5,” City Manager Jimmy L. Morales said in a press release.
“Our hard work in continuing our commitment to reduce flood risk for residents and businesses did not go unnoticed. This notable achievement is a direct result of policy leadership and staff coordination and collaboration.”
Miami Beach’s layout presents flood challenges in the event of a hurricane or heavy rainfall. Being a mostly flat city that’s only seven square miles, there’s a lack of open space to drain rainwater. Concrete cannot absorb water like wetlands can.
According to FEMA, 93 percent of Miami Beach is within a special flood hazard area. 64 percent of the buildings in the city were constructed before the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps developed, requiring buildings to have higher elevation.
Homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damages. It’s suggested to elevate valuable appliances such as washers, dryers, water heater and air conditioning.
In a 2018 study the Union of Concerned Scientists found that flooding exacerbated by sea level rise will, by the year 2045, threaten 12,095 homes in Miami Beach valued at $6.4 billion.