Barnstable County’s regional approach to the Community Rating System (CRS) received the 2017 James Lee Witt Local Award for Excellence in Floodplain Management from the national Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM). The James Lee Witt Award is given out annually to programs demonstrating excellence in floodplain management at various levels of governance. The County’s Cape Cod Cooperative Extension CRS Coordinator, Shannon Jarbeau, was granted the award on May 4 at ASFPM’s annual conference, held this year in Kansas City, MO.
Barnstable County’s regional CRS program is the first of its kind in the country, made possible through funding from Woods Hole Sea Grant that shared the cost of outreach efforts for the first few years. The CRS is a program within the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that allows towns to participate to earn discounts on flood insurance for their policyholders. Residents and business owners in CRS towns can now enjoy a reduction in flood insurance premiums because of their community’s active participation in CRS. Besides the benefit of reduced insurance rates, CRS floodplain management activities enhance public safety, reduce damages to property and public infrastructure, avoid economic disruption and losses, and protect the environment.
Cape Cod Cooperative Extension hired Jarbeau to fill the position of the CRS & Floodplain Coordinator in 2015. As a Certified Floodplain Manager ® with a master’s in coastal policy from the University of Rhode Island, Jarbeau has been working with Cape towns to insure that Barnstable County’s participation in the program pays off. A number of Cape Cod communities have received assistance with the lengthy CRS applications and technical assistance on floodplain and/or CRS issues. In 2016, 2,100 policyholders in four communities saved $162,000 in the CRS, projections for 2017 are $275,000 for 2,900 policyholders in seven communities, and projections for 2018 are $730,000 for 5,300 policyholders in nine towns. Jarbeau aims to help all 15 towns in the county participate in the CRS, which would save over 10,000 policyholders more than $2 million annually.