SAUGUS — The town’s partnership with the state to prepare for major climate change impacts could have a side benefit for local residents: Reduced flood insurance rates.
Saugus is conducting a climate vulnerability assessment after being awarded a $33,000 state grant in September. Town officials are coupling the planning process with efforts to make Saugus a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System.
“We are working to find ways to become a participant community in the NFIP’s Community Rating System and in turn help reduce flood insurance costs for the residents of Saugus,” said Town Manager Scott Crabtree, citing CRSResources.org.
Depending on the rating, residents in Special Flood Hazard Areas can receive discounts ranging from 5 percent to 45 percent of their flood insurance premiums.
As a coastal community with the Saugus River bordering local neighborhoods and wetlands extending along Route 107, Saugus is vulnerable to flooding.
The state climate change planning grant will pay for town officials working with professional planners to find ways to reduce flooding.
Under the rating system, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reward community actions that meet three goals: reducing flood damage to insurable property, strengthening flood insurance coverage, and encouraging a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.
The rating system uses a class-rating system that is similar to fire insurance rating to determine flood insurance premium reductions for residents. Rate classes are rated from nine to one.
Mindful of the significant amount of work related to storm management and flood control, the town is applying to the state for more climate vulnerability planning money.
“If awarded, this financial assistance will continue to provide us with the necessary resources to help find solutions to alleviate flooding that can impact our residents and our community’s infrastructure, and to further assist the town in updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan,” said Crabtree.
The money will provide necessary resources for the town to identify hazards, challenges and strengths, and prepare for future climate adaptation actions to address current vulnerabilities, said Crabtree.
Using money from the grant, a municipal vulnerability provider will be hired to assess the effects of climate change in the town and help with community outreach. Once priorities are identified, there may be design studies, local bylaw changes, redesigns, and natural infrastructure and storm protection measures taken.
Crabtree will also continue to explore opportunities that mitigate future flooding impacts on residents and the town’s infrastructure, such as the state municipality vulnerability program which provides support for cities and towns in Massachusetts to plan for resiliency and implement key climate change adaptation actions for resiliency.
The state awards communities with funding to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans.