Sutter County’s efforts to warn residents of new requirements to purchase federal flood insurance have been recognized by the National Association of Counties (NACO).
Sutter County has received a NACO Achievement Award for the “Mandatory Flood Insurance Deadline Outreach” program it implemented in 2008 to warn south county residents of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to place them in a mandatory flood insurance area, according to Larry Naake, NACO’s executive director.
Board Chairman Jim Whiteaker nominated the County for the award, and announced the award at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting.
Sutter County partnered with several agencies, including the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency and The Yuba-Sutter Appeal-Democrat, in implementing the award-winning program.
When the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) released new maps placing one-third of Sutter County in a high-risk flood zone, Sutter County had to explain to thousands of property owners how, for the first time in four decades, the federal government would require flood insurance on mortgaged properties, and require expensive—and in some cases impossible—flood-proofing measures on new construction.
Sutter County responded with a communications campaign that involved partnerships with key flood control organizations, the local media, and community groups; a series of direct mail pieces to the impacted property owners; a series of outreach meetings by the Sutter County Division of Water Resources for property owners, insurance agents, real estate agents, developers and engineers; the use of new media; the creation of Flood Awareness Month; the creation of a special event, the Flood Aware/Flood Prepare Fair; and the staffing of three people qualified to read flood maps and answer phone calls about flood insurance.
Sutter County partnered with the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency, the American Red Cross, the Yuba-Sutter Mall, the Yuba-Sutter Appeal-Democrat AM 1600 KUBA, and the California Department of Water Resources to create Flood Awareness Month and the Flood Aware/Flood Prepare Fair in October. The Appeal-Democrat printed a special section with information about past floods, preparing for a flood, and flood insurance requirements.
PROACT, a citizen’s organization, conducted levee tours in association with Levee District 1, during Flood Awareness month.
Sutter County produced a video with haunting images from the 1955 flood and posted the video on YouTube and The Appeal-Democrat website.
The county’s outreach generated calls to the Water Resources Division from more than 800 different residents—and many called two or three times. Three qualified department staff fielded the calls and deciphered FEMA’s flood maps for residents.
The County and the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency have plans to continue Flood Awareness Month each October. FEMA is expected to remap large portions of the remaining areas of Sutter County into a mandatory flood insurance zone in 2010.