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Batavia residents now in line for break on flood insurance

BATAVIA – The city’s assistant manager pointed to a high level of collaboration as a key factor in Batavia’s acceptance into the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System, or CRS, a program that provides discounts to homeowners and businesses within the county seat’s 100-year flood plain.

“That’s really the story – the number of different groups and individuals who came together to make this happen,” Gretchen L. DiFante said after receiving notification from FEMA and the Insurance Services Office that Batavia has been given a Level 7 rating into the CRS.

At a Level 7, residents and business in the city’s Special Flood Hazard Area will now qualify for a 15 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums while those outside that area will receive an additional 5 percent discount on top of already reduced rates, DiFante said.

Batavia becomes only the fourth community in New York to receive a Level 7 ranking, joining Amherst, Middletown and Freeport on Long Island.

DiFante credited her team of Tom Turnbull, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce president; Timothy Yeager, Genesee County emergency services manager; Lisa Gautieri, mortgage loan officer with the Bank of Castile; Joseph Teresi, vice president of Tompkins Insurance Agencies; Ronald Panek, city code enforcement officer; and Lisa Casey, city administrative assistant, with pulling people and resources together to earn enough points to obtain CRS status.

“We’re the first community in Genesee County to achieve this, and when you’re the first, you don’t know where to find anything,” she said. “Through the efforts of our team and many others in and outside of the community, such as the Finger Lakes Regional Planning Council, our nearly two years of work has paid off.”

The CRS provides credits to local municipalities based on 18 creditable activities, organized under four categories – public information, mapping and regulations, flood damage reduction, and flood preparedness.

Batavia received many points for its informational outreach projects, open space preservation, adherence to high regulatory standards and flood warning preparation and response, DiFante said.

She noted that cost savings to residents and merchants is important, but is only one benefit of being a member of the rating system.

“The purpose of the CRS is to improve flood mitigation efforts in a community,” she said. “The results of those efforts are better informed citizens, enhanced public safety, a reduction to potential damage to property and public infrastructure, avoidance of economic disruption and protection of the environment.”

DiFante previously reported that 1,040 properties covering about 700 acres are in the city’s 100-year flood plain, with almost all of these properties on the south side of Main Street (Route 5) and Tonawanda Creek. About 400 are covered by flood insurance policies – with 338 in the Special Flood Hazard Area.