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UGA workshop explores ways local governments can help cut flood insurance costs

Savannah, Ga. – More than 70 local government leaders from communities throughout the Southeast learned how to help their constituents manage flood insurance costs through an Aug. 28 workshop organized by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government.

Held at Armstrong State University in Savannah, the Institute of Government workshop taught community leaders from Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and North Carolina about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System and how to maximize the credits their communities can earn for flood control measures and public outreach.

Leaders from Georgia cities that implemented effective Community Rating System projects provided firsthand knowledge about the program’s benefits.

Through this workshop, the Institute of Government, Georgia Sea Grant and UGA Marine Extension are helping Georgia communities take advantage of over $5 million in flood insurance discounts through the Community Rating System, which rewards local governments for taking steps to prepare for and prevent flooding.

Leaders with the City of Tybee Island, situated on a barrier island 20 miles east of Savannah, saved more than $500,000 in flood insurance for residents in 2013. The savings helped local homeowners and as homeowners rented their houses to vacationers, and these savings contributed to the region’s $1.9 billion tourism industry. Georgia Sea Grant and UGA hope to help Tybee Island property owners qualify for an additional 5 percent reduction in flood insurance rates in 2015.

“These projects have already provided a model for other coastal communities to identify their vulnerable assets and plan for flood mitigation,” said Mark Risse, director of UGA Marine Outreach Programs. “For example, the City of St. Marys is partnering with Hyde County, North Carolina, using the same strategies and methodologies that were developed in Tybee.”

“This innovative workshop is a great example of how the Institute of Government forges broad collaborations to help solve Georgia’s challenges and save money for our taxpayers,” said Laura Meadows, the Institute of Government’s director.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government is a Public Service and Outreach unit of the University of Georgia that conducts training, technical assistance and applied research to help state and local governments operate efficiently and effectively and provide improved service to the public. For more information, see