Town Updates Flood Mitigation Plan

OCEAN CITY – Against the backdrop of the remnants of Hurricane Ian and the rising floodwaters on many downtown Ocean City streets this week, resort officials approved an updated floodplain management plan, or hazard mitigation plan.

Every five years, the Town of Ocean City updates its floodplain management plan, or hazard mitigation plan (HMP), which outlines strategies for managing rising floodwaters and their potential impacts on properties in low-lying areas. The HMP is used by the federal Community Rating System (CRS) to help determine which properties are required to carry flood insurance, and a town such as Ocean City’s ability to assess areas prone to flooding are used to determine flood insurance rates and premium levels for property owners.

Each year, the town’s planning staff presents a report on the status of the HMP, which occurred on Monday. Planning and Community Development Director Bill Neville told the Mayor and Council the review of the town’s plan by the CRS resulted in stabilized flood insurance rates for resort property owners required to carry flood insurance.

Neville said the CRS’s most recent review of the town’s plan resulted in the retention of Ocean City’s Class 6 rating, which provides a 20% discount in the premium cost of flood insurance for all property owners required to carry flood insurance. As a result, all National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy holders in the resort will continue to get the 20% reduction in their premiums do to the actions taken in the town’s HMP.

It’s no secret certain areas in Ocean City continue to flood in even a modest rainfall event or high tide cycle as evidenced last week when the remnants of Hurricane Ian combined with a classic nor’easter continued to pound the resort. Many of the downtown streets continued to be under at least a foot of water during high tide throughout much of the week. However, a continual review of the HMP, which was last updated in 2016 and identifies flooding problem areas and allows the town to take mitigation measures, provides resort property owners with the discount on flood insurance premiums. Neville told the Mayor and Council most of the action items in the plan had been completed.

“This is the last report for the 2016 plan,” he said. “All of the action items in the 2011 plan have been retired and most of the action items in the 2016 plan have been completed.”

Neville explained how the town’s participation in the CRS provided insurance discounts to residents.

“It’s one of those things where we get rated on a points system to qualify for the 20% discount on flood insurance premiums for our property owners,” he said. “It’s one of the measures of success for our program.”

He said a progress report on the implementation of the credited plan is required to review each action item and describe what was implemented, or in some cases not implemented, and recommend changes to the action plan as needed. The progress report is then submitted to state and federal agencies for review, and the results of that review are used to determine which properties are required to have flood insurance, and ultimately what the rates should be. Neville said a review of the town’s 2016 updated plan has been received positively by state and federal officials.

“The message we’re hearing nationally is we’re doing a great job with this,” he said. “The flood insurance rates for our property owners did not increase and even declined in some cases because of the action items completed in this report.”

With that said, the council voted 5-0 with Councilmen John Gehrig and Lloyd Martin absent to approve the presented final progress report for the 2016 HMP, which will be published on the town’s website and distributed. An updated draft 2022 HMP is currently in the works.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.