Lansing improves in FEMA’s flood rating system, earning insurance discounts for residents

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The Lansing Clocktower at Park Plaza. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
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By Josh Bootsma

LANSING, Ill. (June 27, 2022) – The Village of Lansing has earned a Class 5 rating from the The Federal Emergency Management Agency for its floodplain management efforts, which will result in increased discounts on local residents’ flood insurance bills.

Lansing’s flood program involvement

The rating comes through a pair of voluntary FEMA-based programs that Lansing has been involved with for decades, the first being the National Flood Insurance Program. The NFIP is a nationwide program that incorporates roughly 23,000 communities, said Eric Kuklewski, Chief of the Region 5 Mitigation Branch of the FEMA Floodplain Mitigation and Insurance Division.

“If a community or entity adopts certain minimum floodplain management standards, the federal government assures that flood insurance, through the National Flood Insurance Program, is available to all of the businesses, renters, and property owners within that jurisdiction that made that choice,” Kuklewski said.

The second program Lansing is a part of goes beyond the minimum standards, and is a tiered rating system of flood management efforts called the Community Rating System.

Kuklewski said that Lansing has been a part of CRS since 1993, shortly after the program started. The program currently includes roughly 1,500 communities nationwide, and “a good number are in the [Class] nine, eight, and seven range,” he said, explaining that as a community improves in its floodplain management efforts, its rating moves closer to Class 1.

Lansing shares its Class 5 rating with only about 170 other communities across the country, Kuklewski said, and data from FEMA shows that only 15 other municipalities in Illinois have achieved a Class 5 or better.

Lansing’s efforts

Prior to recently earning a Class 5 rating, Lansing had been a Class 7. The Village improved its score by earning more “points” in CRS’ four major categories. Specific actions earn points, which are then totaled into an overall score. The four categories are listed and explained below, and include some specifics of Lansing’s recent efforts.

  • Public Information — credits communities that advise their citizens and business owners about flood hazards, flood insurance, and ways to reduce flood damage.
    • Lansing, according to information received from FEMA, “includes information to inquirers on whether a property is in a Floodway and the Regulations for development in the Floodway.” The village also informs parties interested in a property of “other problems not shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps such as problem drainage issues on an individual site, Historical Flood information for a site, and whether a site is near a natural or protected wetland area.”
    • Lansing has also distributed brochures to real estate offices which help educate buyers on the importance of checking for flood hazards before buying a property.
  • Mapping and Regulations — credits a community’s efforts to limit further development of a floodplain through higher regulatory standards, stormwater management, and other flood-conscious actions.
    • According to FEMA information, Lansing has utilized better mapping techniques to identify special flood hazard areas. Lansing was also awarded points for its stormwater regulations.
    • Lansing’s participation in the Building Code Effectiveness Grading meets set prerequisites.
  • Flood Damage Reduction — examines a community’s efforts to reduce flood risk to existing developments through a flood hazard mitigation plan, relocating at-risk structures, and maintaining drainage systems.
    • Lansing has adopted and participates in the Cook County Multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.
    • Information from FEMA said, “The Village receives credit for having drainage procedures in place and inspecting steams, ditches, and waterways at least once a year and addressing problem sites more often.”
  • Flood Preparedness — credits flood warning, levee safety, and dam safety projects.

Discounted flood insurance

The better rating a community receives in the CRS program, the greater discount FEMA offers to flood insurance policy holders. With a Class 5 rating, Lansing flood insurance rates will be discounted up to 25%. Prior to the Class 5 designation, Lansing rates were discounted 15%.

Flood insurance is not typically part of homeowners insurance, and is available as its own insurance policy, said Kuklewski. “A lot of times somebody who may have their homeowners [insurance] through one of the typical write-your-own companies could also purchase their flood insurance through that company — we’re talking Allstate, and groups like that. Not all write-your-own companies have an agreement have an agreement with the National Flood Insurance Program, however, so it would be wise for someone who’s interested to talk to [their insurance company] about NFIP policies.”

“Proud of us”

FEMA representative Mary Beth Caruso came before the Lansing Village Board at its June 21 meeting and shared some information about Lansing’s Class 5 rating.

“On behalf of FEMA, I would like to commend you for this achievement, and most importantly your commitment to the highest levels of flood protections for your citizens,” she said.

Mayor Patty Eidam, after Caruso’s presentation, said, “I’m pretty proud of us.”

More information about the National Flood Insurance Program and the Community Rating System, is available at www.fema.gov/floodplain-management.

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