Homeowners in Cape May County town to receive significant flood insurance discount

An Ortley Beach bungalow is raised to comply with building codes. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

An Ortley Beach bungalow is raised to comply with building codes. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Homeowners in a Cape May County municipality will reap significant savings on their flood insurance premiums thanks to the actions of their local government.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has elevated Avalon from Class 5 to Class 3 status under its Community Rating System following its five-year review process.

Avalon now stands alone with Sea Isle City as the only New Jersey municipalities with a Class 3 rating.

The result is a 35% discount on National Flood Insurance Program premiums for homeowners — or $1.6 million in cumulative savings — beginning this year. More savings come with lower-class status, with premium holders receiving up to a 45% discount at Class 1.

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The Community Rating System evaluates the flood mitigation practices of a community. While 1,700 municipalities in the United States participate in the program, Avalon is one of only 13 to achieve a Class 3 rating.

“Flood mitigation is not a once a year, but an everyday practice among our employees, professionals, and volunteers,” said Avalon Mayor Martin Pagliughi in a statement. “The CRS program has recognized the Borough’s level of excellence in making our community more resilient and protected from future storm events and sea-level rise.”

According to Pagliughi, the federal government evaluated the borough’s building code standards, ordinance and regulations, public communications and notification system, maintenance of proper elevation certificates, stormwater management and higher regulatory standards.

The mayor said some methods include a watershed and floodplain management plan, a flood mitigation project, the elevation and repair of a jetty, a flood sensor program, and a robust public flood risk communications program.

FEMA late last year announced that it would not increase National Flood Insurance Program premiums by an estimated average of $873 per policy to $972, or 11.3%, beginning in October 2020 after federal lawmakers and advocates raised concerns.

The agency said it would delay implementation until October 2021 to allow for additional time to conduct a “comprehensive analysis of the proposed rating structure so as to protect policyholders and minimize any unintentional negative effects of the transition.”

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