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FEMA recognizes Ottawa for flood prevention and response

Recognition comes with discount on flood insurance premiums

Ottawa residents will soon receive a 40 percent discount on their flood insurance premiums as a result of the city’s efforts to mitigate and reduce flood damage.

On Thursday, the city will receive the Community Rating System Award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Ottawa reached a Class 2 in the Community Rating System, which is the highest ranking of any community in FEMA Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. In fact, only one community in the entire nation ranks higher than Ottawa.

The award will be presented Thursday to Mayor Bob Eschbach at the Illinois Association for Floodplain and Stormwater Management’s annual conference in Peoria.

State Sen. Sue Rezin, R-Morris, said this accomplishment is a huge deal for Ottawa and its residents and noted the city has put in a tremendous amount of hard work to reach this achievement.

“What Ottawa has done in flood preparation goes well beyond anything we’ve seen in the entire state,” Rezin said in a press statement. “By receiving such a high rating, everyone that has to pay flood insurance in the city of Ottawa will benefit from their efforts and will receive a large reduction in their flood insurance premiums.”

“Our flood preparation plan not only saves residents money on their flood insurance but also what’s more important, is what it has done for our community,” said Mike Sutfin, City of Ottawa Building and Zoning Official. “By making an investment in how we prepare and respond to floods, we’ve saved our taxpayers nearly $10 million.”

Rezin reflected back to 2013 when she first came to realize Ottawa’s efforts.

“In 2013, we had the most devastating flood this region has ever seen,” Rezin said. “There was a total of $150 million in damage that stretched from one end of my district to the other. Every single community had damage except for Ottawa, who sits at the confluence of two rivers. They had zero dollars of damage. That just goes to show how impactful their efforts truly are.”

Since the 2013 flood, Ottawa’s model for flood management has been embraced by other communities in the 38th District and it is what is used by the Illinois Valley Flood Resiliency Alliance, which is a coalition Rezin helped establish that brings communities, local governments and emergency personnel together to help prepare for flood events.

“What’s even more impressive is the fact that Ottawa’s model is recognized by FEMA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as what other communities should be doing,” Rezin said. “This is a one-of-a-kind model for the rest of the country and it all started right here in Ottawa.”

Learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System and how communities are scored at

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