Supervisors weigh pluses, minuses of insurance plan

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, December 19, 2010

After years of resistance, Lincoln County supervisors seem to bea little closer to joining a national insurance program that couldhelp homeowners whose dwellings lie within flood zones in thecounty.

At a recent meeting, the board signaled its intention to join theNational Flood Insurance Program, but concerns over a requiredordinance and bureaucratic activities could still derail the plan.Lincoln County is one of only two counties in the state, with theother being neighboring Franklin County, to not be a part ofNFIP.

The ordinance that supervisors would have to pass would see somezoning laws enacted and add steps to the home-building process forthose people living in flood zones. To what extent that ordinancewould impact residents is something supervisors will be carefullyconsidering before making a final decision on membership.

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“If we don’t agree with the ordinance, we can still pull the plugon it,” said District Four Supervisor Doug Moak, president of theboard.

But supervisors will also be weighing the benefits of NFIP forflood zone residents and the county as a whole.

For the former, the ability to secure flood insurance at much lowerrates is an obvious plus. County eligibility to possibly securegrants for weather warning equipment and disaster assistance wouldbe a benefit for all county citizens.

How many of the county’s approximately 34,000 residents would bedirectly helped by NFIP membership is not known, although it isbelieved to be a relatively small number. But how many more couldbe impacted in the future – some county homeowners found themselvesin flood plains for the first time after new flood zone maps werereleased – is another factor for deliberations.

There are some obvious benefits – but also some potential drawbacks- for Lincoln County joining the flood insurance program. Theimpact of both benefits and drawbacks on county residents and theirpocketbooks should be foremost in supervisors’ minds as they pondertheir ultimate course of action on an important insuranceissue.