Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program

CRS and the Program for Public Information

A Program for Public Information (PPI) refers to a committee-based localized approach to community outreach under the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating System (CRS). A PPI is described as “an ongoing effort to prepare, implement, and monitor a range of public information activities.” The objective of CRS credit for a PPI is to provide additional points for information programs that are (1) designed to meet local needs and (2) monitored, evaluated, and revised to improve their effectiveness. In other words, communities that conduct their CRS outreach activities through the coordination of a PPI stand to gain more points than they would for conducting the outreach as a standalone activity. A PPI planning committee becomes a value-added mechanism for maximizing a community’s CRS score.

In 2014, the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program and partners received funding from the EPA Gulf of Mexico Program to provide technical assistance to Mississippi and Louisiana coastal communities participating in the CRS. Through the project entitled Saving Money and Enhancing Resilience: Assisting Communities through the 2013 Community Rating System, project team members assisted local governments in creating a PPI committee and crafting a comprehensive document detailing the range of flood outreach activities applicable to each PPI group. In Mississippi, the city of Biloxi opted for a single jurisdiction approach to their PPI, while in Louisiana the parishes of Cameron, Calcasieu, and Vermillion organized a multi-jurisdiction PPI.

In 2018, the Legal Program received funding from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance to assist the city of Orange Beach, Alabama in developing a PPI. The city formed a Community Resilience Working Group (CRWG) to provide guidance on city programs and policies related to resilience, such as the PPI. In addition to the PPI, the CRWG also undertook a comprehensive audit of city ordinances to identify areas of improvement. The Legal Program’s activities included working with city officials to plan CRWG meetings, overseeing development of the PPI, conducting an ordinance gap analysis, and facilitating input from technical partners. In December of 2019, the last round of comments on the document were received from FEMA officials and final edits were made to the document. In early February, the final draft was approved by city staff and sent ahead for formal authorization by the city council.

The project team included a wide array of technical partners such as Smart Home America, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative. Staff from Louisiana Sea Grant assisted in the project by guiding the CRWG in a scenario planning exercise based upon the Enhanced Coastal Community Resilience Index (CRI).

For more information contact project lead Stephen Deal, scdeal@olemiss.edu.

Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program