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Flood Protection

Ocoee passes ordinance in pursuit of discounts on FEMA flood insurance

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Norine Dworkin

Editor in Chief

Friday, June 21, 2024


City of Ocoee

Storms are stronger, insurance is pricier, Ocoee wanted to provide some "economic relief" to its residents in the floodplains, said City Engineer Hseth Burch.

Starting Oct. 1, Ocoee residents with flood insurance will receive a five percent discount on their premiums. And thanks to a new ordinance passed unanimously at Tuesday’s city commission meeting, those premiums may get discounted even more come October 2025.

The ordinance amended Article VII, Part 1A of the city’s Land Development Code for floodplain management, updating language to reflect best practices from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Floodplain Management and codify the efforts the city has already undertaken to improve the city’s flood resiliency.

The goal, Zoning Manager Anoch Whitfield said in an email to VoxPopuli, is to bump up the city’s rating in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Community Ratings System.

The Community Ratings System (CRS) is a “voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management practices that exceed the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), according to FEMA’s site. More than 1,500 communities participate.

Mike Rumer, Ocoee's development services director, said it’s a “laborious” process for a city to get into the CRS. “It’s a lot of documentation,” he told VoxPopuli after the meeting. “FEMA actually comes out and does site visits.”

Currently Ocoee is in Class 9, which provides homeowners with homes in a floodplain with that five percent flood insurance discount. With the changes in place under the new ordinance, city staff believes the city can level up to Class 7, which would provide residents who have structures within the 100-year floodplain with a discount of 15 percent.

“In April of 2025 we go back in for the certification, and we try to get more points to get a higher ranking,” Rumer said. “What we're doing tonight is going to facilitate that so we can give [FEMA] all this documentation, and in that April recertification we can get a determination that we're a [class] seven and then October 1, 2025, the percentage of discount goes up."

With the available discounts, Rumer said people in floods zones, might want to consider getting flood insurance “as an extra precaution.”

City Engineer Hseth Burch noted in an email to VoxPopuli that Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Ian both dropped more rain than anticipated for a 100-year storm event — and that the storms occurred five years apart.

Burch said that with storm severity and frequency increasing and insurance premiums rising, the city wanted to "provide a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel in the form of some economic relief" by pursuing the insurance rate discounts. 

"Through improved practices, policies, and community awareness, the goal is to minimize the risk of flood damage within our community as much as possible," Burch said. 

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