Flood insurance rates could go down 35% in much of Miami-Dade after federal officials upgraded the county’s flood rating status, but the reductions won’t directly apply to municipalities on barrier islands like Miami Beach or Key Biscayne.
FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell made the announcement after touring a storm water pumping station in West Kendall completed in 2009, which was paid mostly through federal and state grants.
The County is planning $1 billion in stormwater projects over the next several decades – and Criswell said other communities should follow the County’s example.
“These types of updates are critical for ensuring that our communities can manage the stormwater and coastal flooding, especially with the increase that we’re seeing as a result of climate change,” she said.
Miami-Dade’s rating improved from a “5” to a “3” under the Community Rating System. It was the first time a county improved two levels and was a result of flood mitigation efforts, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
“We earned this rating over many, many years of hard work and strategic planning to improve our flood, plain and stormwater program,” the mayor said.
Key Biscayne is contemplating hundreds of millions of dollars in stormwater improvements, but it’s not clear the building of pumps alone would lead to an improved CRS rating, said Jeremy Gauger, the Village’s planning chief.
The Village is working to improve its score, but because the island does not have large open space to soak up water, such as wetlands, the opportunity for dramatic reduction in the score might be limited, Gauger said.
Criswell insisted, however, that investing in storm weather infrastructure is worth it for taxpayers.
“Every dollar that we invest in mitigation, whether it’s storm water or other severe weather events, saves $6 In our response recovery costs,” she said.
Tony Winton is the editor-in-chief of the Key Biscayne Independent and president of Miami Fourth Estate, Inc. He worked previously at The Associated Press for three decades winning multiple Edward R. Murrow awards. He was president of the News Media Guild, a journalism union, for 10 years. Born in Chicago, he is a graduate of Columbia University. His interests are photography and technology, sailing, cooking, and science fiction.