New Haven Gets High Rating For Coastal Resiliency Efforts

Sep 26, 2017

New Haven has been given a class 7 rating by the National Flood Insurance Program. That’s the highest rating available in the state. 

The city made the announcement at Pardee Seawall Park, where hundreds of homes sit near the water. City planner Karyn Gilvarg said the rating could equate to a discount on premiums.

“Having this rating would save the average homeowner 15 percent on the NFIP portion of insurance,” Gilvarg said. “NFIP covers up to $250,000 worth of insurance.”

With the increase in natural disasters the NFIP, which was developed for hard-to-insure properties, has been overwhelmed by severe weather events. So they started rating communities according to how well they were enforcing floodplain management laws.

New Haven officials said it’s been three years of hard work with multiple levels of government agencies to achieve the 7 rating, like building seawalls and maintaining the storm drain system. But city engineer Giovanni Zinn said a storm surge along with several inches of rain is one of the scenarios that still keeps them up at night.

“Another thing that keeps us up long term is climate change,” said Zinn. “As sea level rises, our ability to drain the city is going to continue to be compromised.”

According to city officials, there are 1,800 parcels in the FEMA 100-year floodplain area. That includes commerce, industrial, and residential properties.

City Planner Karyn Gilvarg, New Haven Emergency Operations Deputy Director Rick Fontana, and Mayor Toni Harp
Credit Lori Mack / WNPR

New Haven Mayor Toni Harp said they’re “taking a long-term look at how to prepare for sea level rise, higher tide and storm surges due to large storms, as well as the flooding that comes from rain and snow storms.”

New Haven is one of nine communities in Connecticut to participate in the Community Rating System (CRS) program and the second to achieve the highest CRS rating in the state.