Wetlands Watch found out years ago that implementing sea level rise and flooding adaptation was a retail operation - working one-on-one with local governments, talking to small groups of citizen stakeholders, like those in attendance at a public meeting in Gloucester County (pictured above), and helping make the changes needed to promote resilience in at-risk communities.
March 1, 2017, found our staffer, Mary-Carson Stiff, working into the evening, 50 miles from home, meeting with folks in Gloucester, VA to explain flood insurance and the Community Rating System (CRS). Organized by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the state agency that manages the floodplain programs in Virginia, the workshop "CRS Benefits & Flood Insurance Rate Reductions" drew a crowd of 30 interested citizens and local government staff from the Middle Peninsula on a stormy work week evening. DCR, Wetlands Watch, and Gloucester County's floodplain management program and citizen-lead Floodplain Management Committee presented to the group. The meeting celebrated Gloucester County's improved CRS class rating of 6, earning policyholders 20% premium reductions each year. If you'd like a copy of the presentations, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wetlands Watch's Mary-Carson, or "M-C" as she is known, is a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM), an expert on FEMA programs, Chair of the Coastal VA CRS Workgroup, and serves on the Board of the Virginia Floodplain Managers Association (VFMA). A graduate of William & Mary Law School and in the first class of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center, she leads our organization's Floodplain Management Program, notably promoting reforms of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to incentivize open space protection and habitat creation in localities' floodplains.
When we discovered that the CRS program rewards higher levels of flood protection by reducing the cost of flood insurance, we started to work with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and DCR to expand the CRS program in coastal Virginia.
First we developed a local government guide to the CRS. Then we started meeting with local governments and their citizens to gain support for the CRS and for the green infrastructure approaches we want - wetlands & open space in the floodplains earn the largest reductions in premiums. We work in the CRS program because it saves money and shorelines in our communities.
Thanks to our supporters at the blue moon fund, Campbell Foundation, West Wind, and others, we are able to work with local governments and their constituents as they tackle this complicated FEMA program, walking obscure regulatory language into the real world decisions facing coastal communities.