Dark blue indicates high flood hazard areas in Patagonia.

Property owners in Patagonia who purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on or after October 1, 2018 will receive a 5% discount on their premiums, thanks to the hard work, perseverance and research undertaken by town resident Murphy Musick.

Because of his efforts, the town was recently notified that it had been approved to participate in the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS) for determining flood insurance and has been designated a Class 9 community. This means that property owners in town who purchase flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on or after October 1, 2018 will receive a 5% discount on their premiums.

Class 9 is just the beginning if Musick gets his wish. Each level brings another 5% premium reduction. Musick’s goal is to get the town to Class 7 by October 1, 2019. To get there, the town will need to add at least an additional 838 points to its current total of 662, about half of which derive from the town’s participation in the open space preservation (OSP).

As the town’s designated CRS Coordinator, with the assistance of town and county staff and Flood and Flow Committee members, Musick will focus on several categories of activities as the most likely sources of additional points. These include (1) expanding the OSP designation, especially by getting private landowner participation; (2) documenting flood response resources already in place such as the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT); and (3) implementing a Program of Public Information (PPI). The latter has already been set in motion with the town council’s approval of a PPI committee that will work closely with the Flood and Flow Committee.

“The town and county staff have really been helpful in putting the application together,” Musick stated. The town approved a resolution on June 27 reaffirming “that the town parks and community garden plots are to remain as a permanent open space.”

The county’s GIS mapping staff assisted in identifying additional open space properties, within the town boundaries, that could qualify for inclusion in the CRS program. The county also has links on its website to a range of documents that property owners
can access to learn how to improve both their own and the town’s flood preparedness. Their continuing help will be instrumental in reaching the 1500-point milestone Musick has set for next year.

Musick became involved in this project after he and wife, Kate, were unexpectedly advised that their house on Santa Rita Avenue was in the floodplain and they would have to purchase flood insurance. After getting over the shock, he converted his anger to action. He researched the NFIP and FEMA’s methods for determining which properties are in the floodplain and convinced them that his home was not at risk. In taking on FEMA, he paved the way for many more homeowners to benefit from FEMA’s revision to the town’s floodplain map.

This year’s 5% discount on premiums won’t save customers much, as flood insurance premiums are projected to go up by as much as 25% a year, but the pain of paying for premiums would be more severe if the town weren’t participating in the CRS.

Efforts to attain the premium reductions ultimately reduce the risk of flood damage for all property owners, not just those who purchase flood insurance. That makes Musick feel very good about the work he’s put into this project. Now he wants to encourage area residents to educate themselves, to protect their own homes and to support community-wide efforts to reduce the risk of flood-related loss.