One can debate the economics, potential jobs and promised tax revenues of the proposed Bluff Point Planned Unit Development. But one fact that is not debatable is that this will be a community whose real property will only be insurable through the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program.
Given the location’s sinking land and rising sea level, extensive erosion characteristics, years to completion, and the expected lifespan of the community, it is a certainty that future tropical storms and hurricanes will cause massive insurable losses for FEMA.
Placing the PUD in this hazardous coastal flood zone also means that every time a category hurricane is forecast for the area, the county emergency services and the Bluff Point community will be faced with the possibility of evacuating hundreds of people, securing personal property, and dealing with traffic congestion from a large numbers of cars and trailered boats over restrictive rural back roads.
Evacuating From the Beginnings of a Storm Surge on Bluff Point
While the Northumberland Board of Supervisors have wide latitude in approving or denying a Special Exception Permit, this one would seem to be a “no-brainer” given the Board’s responsibility to discourage large scale, high density development in zones that are high risk to public safety and private property.
No amount of potential tax revenue or promise of a few jobs is going to off-set the forever continuing drama faced with each announcement of a pending tropical storm or category hurricane that will befall the residents and commercial activities of a Bluff Point development.
FEMA: The National Flood Insurance Program
"Nearly 20,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes Federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary.
Flood insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Flood damage is reduced by nearly $1 billion a year through communities implementing sound floodplain management requirements and property owners purchasing of flood insurance. Additionally, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building standards suffer approximately 80 percent less damage annually than those not built in compliance.
In addition to providing flood insurance and reducing flood damages through floodplain management regulations, the NFIP identifies and maps the Nation's floodplains. Mapping flood hazards creates broad-based awareness of the flood hazards and provides the data needed for floodplain management programs and to actuarially rate new construction for flood insurance."