Proposed changes in the nation's flood insurance program could have a major impact on property owners in flood-prone areas.
The changes were briefly discussed Wednesday at the monthly Brunswick-Glynn County Chamber of Commerce meeting.
Woody Woodside, the chamber's president, said rates will likely be higher in areas with a history of flooding both from overflowing rivers and marshes to other areas where poor drainage leads to flooding after heavy rain. The flood insurance changes will be a topic for discussion when chamber members travel to Washington D.C. for the annual fly-in from May 1-3.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency changes announced earlier this week are among the most significant reforms in the history of the national flood insurance program.
Premiums will be linked to actual flood risk starting in October 2020. Insurance rates are currently based on whether a home is inside or outside the 100-year flood plain. The new changes will address structures in the most flood-prone areas.
One of the concerns is how the new risk assessments will impact low-income and disadvantaged households. Damage assessments from recent hurricanes show a large number of damaged homes lacked flood insurance because the risk assessment by FEMA was inaccurate. The new rating system will have new categories that had not been considered a flooding source in the past.
Some households could pay less, while rates in some areas could double, which will likely cause some property owners to complain like they did in 2012 when Congress tried unsuccessfully to revamp the flood insurance program.
But there have been several costly flooding events in recent years that have prompted FEMA to initiate the new policy.
In other items discussed during the meeting, Scott McQuade, executive director of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the area experienced a six percent decrease in tourism in January because of the government shutdown. The good news is the shutdown happened at one of the slower times of the year for tourism.
February and March have been good months for tourism, in part due to the many accolades national publications and other sources have given to the Golden Isles. The CVB is also in discussions with two possible TV shows interested in filming in the region.
The chamber's nominating committee named Ben Hartman as the organization's new chairman once the term of the current chair, Jeff Bennett, expires.
And, two hurricane hunter planes will be in town on May 10 to help publicize the upcoming hurricane season. The crew will be available to meet with the public and answer questions, said Alex Eaton, deputy director of the Glynn County Emergency Management Agency.
"This is a once in a lifetime event," he said. "It's a great opportunity to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season."
(c)2019 The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.)
Visit The Brunswick News (Brunswick, Ga.) at www.thebrunswicknews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.