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Pinellas County recognized by FEMA administrator for flood rating

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FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell and members of her team, including Region 4 Administrator Robert Samaan, recognized Pinellas County on Tuesday for attaining the highest rating that any Florida community has ever received in the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS).

Administrator Criswell presented Board of County Commissioners (BCC) Chair Kathleen Peters and Vice Chair Brian Scott with an honorary plaque at a BCC special event held after the commission’s regular meeting.

“This is a huge deal, and it is a shining example of what’s achievable for other communities that are looking to invest in floodplain management and resilience across the county, across Florida or across the United States,” Administrator Criswell said. “This is what it looks like when a community invests in resilience, and those investments pay off.”

Pinellas County’s new Class 2 rating is providing unincorporated Pinellas property owners and renters up to a 40 percent discount on their NFIP flood insurance premiums. The rating – up from Class 3 with a 35 percent discount – was announced last year and went into effect April 1, 2024.

Not only is it the highest rating a Florida community has ever achieved, but it is also in the top one percent of CRS communities nationwide. The Class 2 rating is projected to provide more than $10 million per year in annual savings on flood insurance premiums for unincorporated areas of the county.

“This is truly a shared accomplishment,” Chair Peters said. “It’s only possible because of the great working relationship that we have with FEMA, with the Florida Division of Emergency Management, with our municipalities, and other partners such as the realtors and staff from across the county.”

The CRS program helps make flood insurance more affordable and promotes a comprehensive approach to floodplain management to reduce flooding impacts. In communities that participate in the CRS program, flood insurance premiums are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community’s floodplain best management efforts