Assess Open Space to Lower Flood Insurance Cost

Planners in a South Carolina community are taking steps to help homeowners save an estimated $128 each on their flood insurance through a FEMA program designed to mitigate risks in flood-prone areas.

Specifically, planners worked with the Community Rating System (CRS), a voluntary FEMA program that encourages communities to go beyond the minimum requirements of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The program provides insurance discounts for activities that reduce flood insurance to insurable property and promote more resilient floodplain management.

“Access Open Space to Lower Flood Insurance Cost,” a new Lesson from Learn ArcGIS, shows how a Georgetown County planning office used a specific CRS activity called “Open Space Preservation” (OSP) to get homeowners the biggest potential discount. OSP awards credits for open areas that are legally protected from development, such as a park or nature preserve.

In the lesson, you will use ArcGIS Pro to download and analyze a Living Atlas of the World raster showing areas across the nation that are likely eligible for OSP. You’ll use Georgetown County’s 100-year floodplain and parcel data to summarize the acreage which could be eligible for OSP credits per parcel.

The workflow and data presented in this lesson represent a significant improvement for how NFIP communities across the country can more effectively participate in the CRS program to make flood insurance more affordable while improving their community’s resilience to future flooding through open space preservation.

Previously, many communities that did not have access to high resolution data assumed they could not participate in the CRS program. However, this Learn lesson provides a method for any community to use the publicly available, the first-of-its-kind, national Living Atlas layer for OSP analysis at the parcel level.

Two story maps, Open Space and Get Some Credit, complement the lesson by detailing CRS and OSP. The story maps also discuss the benefits to communities and homeowners who decide to participate.

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