Flood Insurance Break For Sea Bright

May 4, 2018
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The red line on this High Water mark sign reminds Sea Bright residents how high the water rose during Super Storm Sandy. The sign is on River Street, overlooking the Shrewsbury River in downtown Sea Bright. Rumson is across the river.

By Chris Rotolo |

SEA BRIGHT – Since Super Storm Sandy ransacked the borough in October 2012, rebuilding efforts have been well documented. And now they’ll be rewarded.

Mayor Dina Long announced earlier this month that the municipality is now included in the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS), a voluntary incentive initiative that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that go above and beyond NFIP requirements.

For the borough’s efforts, Long said all insurance policy holders in Sea Bright will receive a 20 percent reduction in flood insurance policy premiums, “which is going to make a significant difference for our property owners,” Long said.

Towns enrolled in the CRS program receive a number grade from 1 through 10, with 1 designating the most proactive communities.

Long said Sea Bright received a designation of 6, adding, “This is very high for a town that is new to the program. It reflects the commitment of our entire community, not just elected officials and borough staff. To enter at that level takes a commitment to flood mitigation and minimizing the risk of future floods from all of our residents.”

Sea Bright is the fourth Two River-area town to enroll in the program, joining Middletown (6), Oceanport (7) and Monmouth Beach (8).

Long noted that, of the 105 New Jersey communities currently enrolled in the CRS program, only 17 are graded higher than Sea Bright, and those are generally “much larger communities that have been in the program for several years and built up their designation over time.”

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The mayor would like a similar long-term commitment from the Sea Bright community, in hopes of continuing to drive down insurance premium rates.

“The work we have put in has allowed us to enter at a high designation level, but the work isn’t finished,” Long said. “Now we have to hang on to that designation of Class 6 and hopefully improve upon it in the future, which will only benefit the property owners of Sea Bright.”

The CRS designations are based upon 18 creditable activities organized under four categories, including Public Information, Mapping and Regulations, Flood Damage Reduction and Flood Preparedness.

Long indicated that the number of borough properties raised above FEMA’s Base Flood Elevation (BFE), as well as documentation for the nearly 220 structures elevated above the BFE, contributed to Sea Bright’s CRS program rating.

Another contributing factor is Sea Bright’s ability to effectively communicate emergency information to its residents through digital Nixle Alerts, mail correspondence and social media posts from elected officials.

The borough’s continued focus on improving stormwater management under state guidelines, and the documentation of those activities, also played a role.

“A lot of the things we had already been doing as a matter of practice since Super Storm Sandy contributed to our rating,” Long said. “But we hadn’t created a system to document them. We had to implement new systems and ways of conducting our business so that we were creating the documentation necessary to take part in this program, rather than having to recreate everything, which is what our borough staff was doing the last two years.”

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Long credited Sea Bright’s inclusion in this CRS program to the vision of her late mayoral predecessor Maria Fernandes, who passed away Feb. 26, 2012.

“Ten years ago she was talking about having Sea Bright join the CRS program. When she introduced the idea, it was going to involve a great deal of work and the idea really wasn’t embraced by the rest of the governing body. Now, 10 years later, I think Mayor Maria Fernandes would be very proud of Sea Bright.”

No action is required by Sea Bright residents to receive the 20 percent discount, as it will automatically appear on their flood insurance policies.

This article was first published in the April 26-May 3, 2018 print edition of The Two River Times.

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