In early December, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region IV recognized the City of Ocala for significantly improving its stormwater infrastructure and protecting the community from flooding.

The City of Ocala participates in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Community Rating System (CRS), a voluntary incentive program recognizing community floodplain management that exceeds minimum requirements. In July, the city received notice that it achieved a Class 3 rating — a great improvement from its previous Class 8 rating.

More than 1300 communities participate in the ranking system. Based on the ratings released in July, Ocala is one of only two communities east of the Mississippi River to be designated as a Class 3 CRS. This achievement reduced the flood insurance premiums for city of Ocala residents by 35% effective October 1, 2015. This reduction equates to a collective annual cost savings of $118,204.

Floods are the most common natural disaster. Of the major disasters declared by the president, 80% are floods. According to news sources, Florida led the nation in total FEMA flood insurance claims in 2014 with 2,655 claims constituting more than $117,867,100 in payments.

Community ratings are based on actions in public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and warning and response. Improvements to Ocala’s drainage that helped improve its rating include the expansion of Heritage Hills drainage retention area and vigilant maintenance of the city storm sewer.