Biloxi lowers flood insurance rating, saves policy holders $

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The cost of living in a flood zone just got cheaper in Biloxi. After extensive work to meet more FEMA guidelines, Biloxi was able to lower its flood insurance rating from a six to a five. Biloxi officials talked about what they did and how much money it's going to save residents.

After Hurricane Katrina, new elevation requirements meant many people wanting to rebuild their homes had to build up. So Biloxi got busy trying to help residents keep their flood insurance premiums down.

"My department alone does mapping and letters to residents," said Flood Plain Manager Rick Stickler. "We keep elevation certificates on file. As residents have flooding issues, they can come into our office and ask for advice on how to mitigate the issues."

FEMA officials recognized Biloxi's efforts to improve its ranking in the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Ranking System.

"The city of Biloxi's program was awarded a C.R.S. class 5," said Susan Wilson, Chief of the Flood Plain Management Insurance Branch For FEMA Region 4. "This distinguishes the city of Biloxi as one of a very select group of communities nationwide. There are only 65 nationwide that have this level of discount."

That discount will be shared by Biloxi's nearly 6,000 flood policy owners.

"If they're in the special flood hazard area, then they receive a 25 percent flood insurance premium discount on their annual insurance policy," said Wilson. "This means an average savings annually of about $285."

Biloxi officials said their mission was to also try to save property and lives.

Stickler said, "The more we can get to participate in C.R.S. the better we are resiliency wise to insure that we can recover better from storms and be better prepared for storms."

FEMA officials said only two other cities in Mississippi have achieved a five flood insurance rating and that's Waveland and Pascagoula.

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