Hattiesburg council questions change in city's flood rating

Hattiesburg council questions change in city's flood rating

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Members of the Hattiesburg City Council are looking for answers as to why some residents' flood insurance premiums have increased after the city's flood rating negatively changed by two points.

Ward 4 Councilwoman Mary Dryden said she was contacted by someone whose premium increased by $162, and her understanding is that number will stay unless the city's flood rating goes back to what it was.

"It will take a while, I'm sure, for them to get that restored," Dryden said. "Then it will take a while for a person's insurance premium to catch up with a change in the rating. This is something that goes through FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)."

Pattie Brantley, director of Urban Development for Hattiesburg, said the previous rating gave residents with flood insurance a 20 percent annual discount on their flood insurance policy. When that rating changed, it went down to a 10 percent discount.

When asked why the rating changed, Brantley referred to turnover in the department and said the employee who managed the city's application submitted for flood ratings since 1990, left in January 2014. Since then there have been two different employees in that position, according to Brantley, and she said there may have been mistakes made on the application to cause the flood rating to change.

"I think it's a huge concern for anyone who has their insurance premiums increased when possibly that could have been prevented," Dryden said.

Brantley said the employee who left in 2014 has volunteered to return to the department in order to help look over the review to make sure the proper information was submitted.

"There are things there that she will know that didn't get counted and needed to be counted, and we can ask for an amendment (to the rate)," Brantley told the council.

Brantley estimated nearly 670 homeowners would be affected by this change, and she said her department would have a more detailed presentation at the Dec. 7 city council work session.