03 – News & Views

Lou’s Views
News & Views / March Edition

Calendar of Events –


Azalea Festival Logo
N.C. Azalea Festival
April 3rd – 7th
Wilmington


Wilmington has been celebrating Spring Southern Style since 1948. There’s something for everyone among their community’s rich array of artwork, gardens, history and culture. This will be the 72nd annual festival and is considered one of the top events in the Southeast.
For more information » click here


Southport Spring Festival LogoSouthport Spring Festival
April 19
th – 20th
Southport


Welcome Spring Easter weekend in style at the Southport Spring Festival, a tradition for more than 25 years. This festival features a wide variety of activities.
For more information » click here



Days at the Docks Festival

April 27th – 28th
Holden Beach

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The annual festival occurs in April or May and is sponsored by the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association. It’s the Holden Beach way to kick-off the Spring and start the vacation season. In addition to the food and arts & crafts, enjoy live music & entertainment, a horseshoe tournament and the world famous “Bopple Race”. Lots of activities for the entire family!
For more information » click here



Blue Crab Festival

May 18th – 19th
Little River SC

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This will be the 38th annual world famous Blue Crab Festival. It is held on the waterfront in Little River and is one of the largest festivals in the Southeast. The purpose of this festival is one that supports and showcases the fabulous atmosphere of the local communities.
For more information » click here


Events
TDA - logo
Discover a wide range of things to do in the Brunswick Islands for an experience that goes beyond the beach.
For more information » click here


Calendar of Events – Island


Easter Egg Hunt - CR

Family Nighttime Easter Egg Hunt
The Town will hold its fifth annual nighttime Easter Egg Hunt on Friday, April 19th beginning at 7:00 pm. Teams of four will compete against each other. This event is designed for youth and adults and will be held at Bridgeview Park. Participants will need to bring their own flashlights to the event. Registration is required and will only be taken by phone, call (910) 842-6488 to pre-register.


HB Pier - CR

Easter Sunrise Church Service
Brunswick Islands Baptist Church and Holden Beach Chapel are sponsoring an Easter sunrise service at 6:30 a.m. Sunday April 21st at the Holden Beach Pier.


HBBC

Holden Beach Beautification Club Plant Sale
The HBBC is holding their 8th Annual Plant Sale on Friday, April 26th and Saturday, April 27th at the Emergency Operations Center, which is beside Food Lion located at 1044 Sabbath Home Road. Landscaping plants, perennials, annuals, herbs and gardening gloves will be available for purchase. All funds generated from the plant sale are earmarked for beautification projects on the island. Visit the Beautification Club’s website at http://holdenbeachbc.org/ if you are unable to attend the plant sale but would like to contribute.



Days at the Docks Festival

This is either a one or two-day event. The festival occurs in April or May of each year and is sponsored by the Greater Holden Beach Merchants Association. This year it is April 27th & 28th. It’s the Holden Beach way to kick-off the Spring and start the vacation season.

 



Pickleball Tournament
Holden Beach is hosting their third annual Pickleball Tournament. This year the Battle at the Beach tournament is May 3rd to May 5th.

 

What is Pickleball you ask?

Pickleball: growing sport for seniors
Pickleball originated in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington. The ball used is a perforated plastic ball similar to a Whiffle ball. The game is easy for beginners to learn, but can develop into a fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players. The net is a couple inches lower than a tennis court net and the court is smaller too (20 feet by 44 feet vs. 36 by 78), and the paddles are oversized ping pong paddles made of plywood, aluminum or graphite. The game can be played with two or four players. Experience in tennis, badminton and ping pong is helpful, as there are similarities with those sports. There already are over 100,000 players in the United States alone. When tennis and badminton players find it difficult to navigate the larger courts, the next step is Pickleball, where there is not as much running required.
Read more » click here


The Town will sponsor a Paint it Purple Cancer Survivors’ Dessert and Ice Cream Social on Friday, May 17th at 1:00 p.m. Survivors, their guests and citizens who would like to show support should call (910) 842-6488 by Monday, May 13th to register. To help support the cause, we ask that you please wear purple to the event if possible.                        Tentative Schedule


Concerts on the Coast Series / 2019
The Town’s summer concert series calendar has been released! Live performances featuring local musical groups are held at the pavilion on Sunday evenings from late May to early September. The concerts are free of charge.
For more information » click here


Parks & Recreation / Programs & Events
For more information » click here


Reminders –

Free Dump Week
Brunswick County will be hosting its spring free dump week at the Brunswick County Landfill April 15th – April 20th. Brunswick County residents and/or property owners may dispose of all materials, except for regular household trash or new construction debris, free of charge. Proof of Brunswick County residency or property ownership is required and will be checked at the landfill entrance.

Brunswick County Landfill
172 Landfill Rd NE, Bolivia, NC 28422
Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 8am until 4pm.


Brunswick County Shred Event
On April 26th, bring your files that need to be shredded to the Brunswick County Complex between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. The County will have shred trucks parked in the parking lot between buildings B & G (look for the signs). This event is free and open to all businesses, property owners and residents of Brunswick County. For more information call (910) 253-2520.

Brunswick County Governmental Center
3325 Old Ocean Hwy.
Bolivia, NC 28422


Speed Limit
Please take notice – Speed limit seasonal limitations, in accordance with Town Ordinances.Speed limit will change on OBW from 45mph to 35mph west of the general store. This change will take place on April 1st and be in effect through September 30th .



Yard Waste Service
Yard debris pick-up will be provided twice a month on the 2ndand 4th Fridays during the months of March, April and May. Please have yard waste placed at the street for pick-up on Thursday night.

 

Yard debris needs to be secured in a biodegradable bag or bundled in a maximum length of five (5) feet and fifty (50) pounds in weight. A total of ten (10) items (bundles of brush/ limbs, bags) will be picked up by Waste Industries. Yard waste must be placed at the street for pick-up. No pick-ups will be made on vacant lots or construction sites.


Hurricane Vehicle Decals
The 2019 vehicle decals were distributed with the March water bills. Each bill included four (4) vehicle decals.Please avoid misplacing the decals, as a $10 fee will be assessed to anyone who needs to obtain replacement decals.

.Decals are your passes to get onto the island to check your property only in the case of a storm the would necessitate restricting access to the island. These are to be used only for your primary vehicles and should be placed on the interior of the lower driver side windshield.

If you own rental property with full-time tenants, two free decals may be obtained by the property owner to distribute to the tenants.

Please make sure to place your decals in your vehicle or in a safe place. Property owners without a valid decal will not be allowed on the island during restricted access. No other method of identification is accepted in an emergency situation. Click here to visit our website to find out more information regarding decals and emergency situations.


Smoke Detectors
Time change means time to check smoke detectors, too. The fire department is encouraging people to test their smoke alarms and change the battery. Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, whether they are battery-operated or hard-wired.



Bird Nesting Area

NC Wildlife Commission has posted signs that say – Bird Nesting Area / Please don’t disturb. The signs are posted on the west end beach strand around 1339 OBW.


People and dogs are supposed to stay out of the area from April through November

. 1) It’s a Plover nesting area
. 2) Allows migrating birds a place to land and rest without being disturbed



Mosquito Control
Current EPA protocol is that spraying is complaint driven
The Town is unable to just spray as they had in the past
. 1)
Complaint based
. 2)
Citizen request
. 3)
Proactively monitor hot spots

They recommend that you get rid of any standing water on your property that you can
Urged everyone to call Town Hall if they have mosquito issues so that they can spray

Spraying is complaint based, so keep the calls coming!


Dog Park Closed
The Dog Park is closed due to the canal dredging project. As it stands now, the USACE will not allow the Town to place material from the canal dredging in their spoil area. Pending CAMA approval, the Town plans on using land at the dog park as its spoils area. The dog park will remain closed until after the dredging project is complete. They anticipate the park will be closed until at least Memorial Day.



BOC’s Meeting
The Board of Commissioners’ April Regular Meeting is scheduled on the third Tuesday of the month, April 16th

 



News from Town of Holden Beach

The town sends out emails of events, news, agendas, notifications and emergency information. If you would like to be added to their mailing list, please go to their web site to complete your subscription to the Holden Beach E-Newsletter.
For more information » click here


Canal Dredging
The Town is planning to perform a complete dredge of all of the canals this coming fall/winter (November 2018 – Mar 2019). It is recommended that property owners begin getting ready for the canal dredging as early as possible by first assessing the condition of their bulkheads so that repairs on those structures can be made in plenty of time before dredging begins. This will not only provide for the best dredging effort, but also lesson the possibility of leaky bulkheads filling canals back in prematurely after dredge completion. The Town will also be conducting its annual inspection of the bulkheads. Likewise, it is also recommended that property owners begin to coordinate the actions needed to move your floating docks in anticipation of the actual dredge arrival in order to facilitate a better excavation near their pilings. Finally, boat movements should also be considered. You may want to begin planning for winter accommodations and repairs to your boat now. Remember that boat dry docks book up fast.

Dredging Project – October
Construction at the Scotch Bonnet dredge spoil area began this week in preparation for this winter’s canal dredging project. We ask that canal property owners begin to move their boats and docks if possible in preparation for the dredge event. The tentative schedule will begin with Holden Beach Harbor mid-November, followed by Heritage Harbor mid-January, and Harbor Acres mid-February.

Note: This schedule may be affected by inclement weather.

King Dredging is partially mobilized on site and is prepping containment area by dog park. Dredging scheduled to commence in the middle of November working the canals from east to west.

Dredging ProjectNovember
King Dredging is fully mobilized on site with dredge in canals. Scotch Bonnet dredge spoil area work is just about completed. Dredging operations are scheduled to commence the first day of December working the canals from east to west. Work is starting with Holden Beach Harbor, which includes canals between High Point and Greensboro. Property owners should have made dock and boat arrangements already, but if you haven’t there’s still a little time left.

King Dredging is just about ready to begin with the following tentative schedule:
. 1)
Holden Beach Harbor – December 1st through January 25th
. 2) Heritage Harbor – January 26th through February 25th
. 3) Harbor Acres – Feb 26th through April 9th

Dredging ProjectDecember
Canal Dredging operations are underway. The dredge “Patricia Sanderson” started work in the Holden Beach Harbor feeder canal late last week. Currently, the dredge is working near the northern end of Durham Street heading west in the feeder canal. If you haven’t taken care of making arrangements to move your in water boats you need to do so as soon as possible.

Dredging ProjectJanuary
Due to the size of the dredge, the contractor has asked that boats on lifts in Heritage Harbor be removed before dredging begins. This will allow for a better dredge in this set of canals as the dredge follows the designed template. The contractor anticipates beginning work in Heritage Harbor in February. Please accommodate the request at your earliest convenience.

Dredging ProjectFebruary
The dredging in Holden Beach Harbor is complete. The contractor is now dredging in Heritage Harbor. This set of canals includes Scotch Bonnet, Lions Paw, Starfish and Sand Dollar. Heritage Harbor work should be completed by the end of February based on the current schedule. The contractor will then move into Harbor Acres. Harbor Acres canal property owners should prepare to remove their boats from canals and from any lifts over the canals. Also, owners should swing their docks out of the way if possible.

Both Holden Beach Harbor and Heritage Harbor dredge project has been completed. The contractor is expected to start work dredging in Harbor Acres next week (02/25/19). Harbor Acres includes Swordfish Drive, Dolphin Drive, Tuna Drive, Marlin Drive, Tarpon Drive and Sailfish Drive.

Dredging ProjectMarch
Currently the dredge is located in Harbor Acres, which includes canals between Swordfish and Sailfish


Volunteers needed
The Town is always looking for people to volunteer for their various boards and committees. If you are interested in serving, please fill out a resume form and submit it to heather@hbtownhall.com.


Recycling-Bin
Curbside Recycling

Waste Industries is now offering curbside recycling for Town properties that desire to participate in the service. The service cost is $82.48 annually paid in advance to the Town of Holden Beach and consists of a ninety-six (96) gallon cart that is emptied every other week.
Curbside Recycling Application » click here
Curbside Recycling Calendar » click here


Elevator - CRElevators
Most states mandate that elevator systems be tested and inspected annually. Currently the state of North Carolina does not require annual inspections to be performed on all elevator systems. The use of unsafe and defective lifting devices imposes a substantial probability of serious and preventable injury to your family and guests. It is in the owner’s best interest to minimize injuries and liability by scheduling an annual safety inspection to ensure the safe operation of their elevator system.

Safety Notice –
Waupaca Elevator Company has issued an important safety notice. The potential hazard is associated with normal wear in your elevator. If your elevator develops the problem and it is not repaired, the elevator may drop unexpectedly with you in it and you may be injured. They recommend you contact your elevator service company.


Library
If you need something to keep you busy in this colder weather, make sure to visit the island library. The library is in the upstairs of Holden Beach Town Hall. All the books were donated. Patrons of the library don’t have to check out a book; they are on the honor system to return it.



Neighborhood Watch –

Need to look out for each other
Call 911 if you see or hear anything suspicious
Fill out Keep Check Request Form if you will be out of town
• Submit completed Property Registration Form
• Pickup copy of Protecting Your Home


Upon Further Review –


Insurance Policy
Previously reported – September 2018
Insurance Commissioner Causey settles homeowners’ insurance rate dispute
Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey announced today the N.C. Department of Insurance has ended the legal dispute with the North Carolina Rate Bureau on its proposal for an 18.7 percent homeowners’ insurance rate increase. Commissioner Causey has negotiated an almost 14 percent lower rate for an average 4.8 percent increase statewide. “I have negotiated a rate that will have minimal impact on the coast yet keep the state’s insurance companies financially sound,” said Commissioner Causey. The 4.8 percent increase will vary according to territory with a cap of 5.5 percent statewide instead of the 25 percent bump on the coast initially proposed by the NCRB. The agreement also covers insurance for tenants and condominiums, which is capped at 12 percent. This rate settlement will save consumers approximately $293 million in the first year alone, compared to the NCRB’s proposed increase.

The NCRB is separate from the NCDOI and is made up of insurance industry representatives. The Rate Bureau filed for the proposed 18.7 percent rate increase November 17, 2017, claiming the increase was necessary because of the increased costs stemming from tornado, severe thunderstorm, and windstorm/hail damage. Commissioner Causey had concerns over the initial filing and set a July 23, 2018, hearing date for the case to be decided if an agreement couldn’t be reached. Over the last several months, the Department and the NCRB have been in litigation while trying to settle the case without the necessity of a long, expensive hearing. The last time homeowners saw an insurance rate increase was in 2012. At that time, the NCRB case was settled for an average statewide increase of 7 percent. The increase will take effect October 1, 2018.
Read more » click here

Update –
NC Rate Bureau seeks rate hike
Barely four months after one insurance rate hike, the Rate Bureau is back in front of the North Carolina Department of Insurance with its hand out for more money. To counter that move, the The League of Women Voters® of Dare County and Outer Banks Association of REALTORS® CEO Willo Kelly hosted a room full of people at the Kill Devil Hills Town Hall to provide details behind a December 20 request to raise North Carolina homeowners insurance rates an average of 17.4 percent. Kelly then pointed out that there really has not been enough time to thoroughly evaluate the adequacy of the new rates that went into effect just four and a half month ago. “

North Carolina law (G.S. 58-36-10) sets out a process for setting rates:
Rates or loss costs shall not be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.
Consideration may be given to the experience of property insurance business during the most recent five-year period for which that experience is available.
Modeled hurricane losses from more than one hurricane model is required.
Due consideration shall be given to a reasonable margin for underwriting profit and to contingencies.

In North Carolina, the Rate Bureau acts as one insurance company representing all insurance companies in the state. The NC Department of Insurance makes the final decision on the maximum rate that can be used. After the public comment period, North Carolina Department of Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey can do nothing and the proposed rates will become effective October 1, 2019 or deny the filing and call for a hearing. Causey could also negotiate a settlement with Rate Bureau to come up with a different rate. A Public Comment Forum will be held to listen to public input on the rate increase request by the Rate Bureau from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. on February 26 in the Second Floor Hearing Room of the N.C. Department of Insurance in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St. in Raleigh.

E-mailed public comments should be sent to: 2018Homeowners@ncdoi.gov.

Written public comments should be mailed to:
Tricia Ford, 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1201

The filing request can be found in its entirety by going to:
http://www.ncdoi.com/PC/Filing_Search.aspx

  1. Search by SERFF number
  2. Begin Search
  3. Accept terms
  4. Enter the SERFF tracking number NCRI-131761557 in the appropriate field.
    Read more » click here

Causey disagrees with proposed homeowners rate increase, sets hearing date
North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has set Sept. 4, 2019, as the hearing date for the North Carolina Rate Bureau’s proposed statewide average 17.4 percent homeowners insurance rate increase. “There is a pervasive lack of documentation, explanation and justification of both the data used, as well as the procedures and methodologies utilized in the filing,” Commissioner Causey said in his hearing notice to the NCRB. “The proposed rates appear to be excessive and unfairly discriminatory.” The hearing will begin at 10 a.m. in the Second Floor Hearing Room in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St. Raleigh. The hearing will be held unless the N.C. Department of Insurance and NCRB are able to negotiate a settlement before that date. State law gives the Insurance Commissioner 45 days to issue an order once the hearing concludes. Once the order is issued, the NCRB has the right to appeal the decision to the N.C. Court of Appeals. A Court of Appeals order could then be appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court. The Department of Insurance and NCRB can settle the proposed rate increase at any time during litigation.

The NCRB filed the average statewide 17.4 percent increase on Dec. 20, 2018. The filing covers insurance for residential property, tenants and condominiums at varying rates around the state. Under the NCRB proposal, the biggest increases would be felt along the coast. The NCRB has requested certain areas in western North Carolina receive small rate decreases. These areas include Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Jackson and Macon counties. Rates for tenants and condominium insurance would see proposed decreases in other counties. The NCRB represents insurance companies that write the state’s homeowners, auto and workers compensation policies. It is a separate entity from the Department of Insurance. The public comment period for the proposed rate hike remains open until February 26th.

There are three ways to comment:

  1. A public comment forum will be held to listen to public input on the Rate Bureau’s rate increase request at the N.C. Department of Insurance’s Second Floor Hearing Room on Feb. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Department of Insurance is in the Albemarle Building, 325 N. Salisbury St., Raleigh, N.C.
  2. Emailed public comments should be sent by Feb. 26 to 2018Homeowners@ncdoi.gov.
  3. Written public comments should be mailed to Tricia Ford, Paralegal Administrator, to be received by Feb. 26 and addressed to 1201 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-1201.

All public comments will be shared with the N.C. Rate Bureau. The last Rate Bureau homeowners rate filing was in 2017. That year, the NCRB requested an average 18.9 percent statewide increase in homeowners insurance rates, but Insurance Commissioner Causey settled, instead, on an average 4.8 percent increase.
Read more » click here

Sounding an Alarm on Homeowner’s Insurance
Homeowners on the barrier island portions of Dare, Currituck and Hyde Counties could face as much as a 30% hike in their insurance rates under a North Carolina Rate Bureau filing, Outer Banks Association of Realtors Chief Executive Officer Willo Kelly warned an audience of about 30 people at a League of Women Voters-sponsored forum on February 13th. Kelly, a longtime watchdog and advocate for the region when it comes to property insurance concerns, said that the N.C. Department of Insurance (DOI) will consider the Rate Bureau’s requested increase following the close of the public comment period on Feb. 26. Rates would go into effect October 1st. At the conclusion of the public comment period, DOI Commissioner Mike Causey can approve the rate filing, do nothing – which, in essence puts the proposed rate into effect — or deny the filing all together. Often, as was the case last year, a settlement agreement is reached between Causey and the Rate Bureau. North Carolina is one of the few states that has an elected insurance commissioner and is the only state that has a Rate Bureau, which is made up of all the companies in the state that are collecting insurance.
Read more » click here

N.C. Rate Bureau asks for 17.4 percent rate increase for homeowners’ insurance
The North Carolina Rate Bureau has requested the N.C. Department of Insurance increase homeowners’ insurance rates 17.4 percent effective Oct. 1, 2019. The N.C. Rate Bureau represents the state’s insurance companies and is a separate entity from the N.C. Department of Insurance. The Rate Bureau attests the increase is needed to cover increased losses, hurricane losses and the net cost of reinsurance. Last year, the Rate Bureau requested an 18.9 percent increase in homeowners’ insurance rates, but Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey settled, instead, on an average 4.8 percent rate increase.
Read more » click here


Seismic Testing / Offshore Drilling

Previously reported – September 2015
Resolution 15-09 is in opposition to offshore exploration and drilling. Why? Because we have a tourism based economy, along with the local fishing industry and quality of life depends on the health and welfare of our natural resources. We believe that the inherent risks to our region from offshore exploration and drilling have the potential to irrevocably harm our natural environment, our economic well-being and our overall quality of life. Including us there are now 79 municipalities that have passed resolutions opposing offshore exploration and drilling.

Previously reported – December 2018
Trump admin. approves seismic tests for Atlantic offshore oil drilling
The approval moves forward a policy that many affected states don’t want.
Read more » click here

Previously reported – February 2019
Bill introduced to prevent seismic air gun testing in Atlantic Ocean
Rep. John Rutherford, R-Florida, and Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-New Jersey, have introduced a bill to prohibit permit applications for seismic air gun testing in the Atlantic Ocean. A release from Rutherford’s office said the bill was introduced in response to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issuing five Incidental Harassment Authorizations that would advance permit applications for seismic air gun blasting off the Atlantic coast. Seismic air gun testing is a step toward offshore oil and gas development and, according to the release, “a direct threat to the coastal fishing and tourism economies dependent on healthy ocean ecosystems.” “The waters off the east coast are home to vulnerable mammal populations, military operations, tourist destinations and a vibrant maritime economy,” Rutherford said. “Allowing seismic testing in the Atlantic is unnecessary and potentially hazardous to the coastal communities that rely on a healthy ecosystem. The U.S. should not jeopardize our coastal economy by expanding seismic testing and offshore drilling, particularly when our energy needs continue to be met.” “Our local economy is dependent on fishing, tourism and wildlife watching — the bottom line is offshore oil and gas drilling isn’t worth the risk,” Van Drew said. The bill is called the Atlantic Coastal Economies Protection Act, according to the release.
Read more » click here

Update –
Bipartisan opposition is clear against Trump’s offshore drilling
In today’s fraught political climate, it is almost impossible to find a truly bipartisan issue. But offshore oil and gas drilling is one. Overwhelmingly, both Democrats and Republicans oppose offshore drilling off America’s coasts. Offshore oil drilling is wildly unpopular across party lines. Governors from both parties in 17 coastal states have announced their opposition to drilling for oil off their shores. More than 330 municipalities on the East and West coasts have passed resolutions against offshore oil drilling and seismic airgun blasting. A group of 37 senators sent a letter to the secretary of Interior expressing strong opposition to the department’s plans to expand offshore drilling to new areas. Florida’s entire federal delegation of 29 lawmakers sent a letter to the Defense secretary, expressing concerns over expanded offshore drilling.

Coastal communities, businesses and elected officials understand that offshore oil drilling threatens existing jobs, economies, the environment and livelihoods. It also puts ocean recreation and tourism at risk, which provides 2.2 million jobs and contributes more than $115 billion annually to our nation’s economy. Even in the best-case scenario, offshore oil in the Atlantic and Pacific would provide only about 758 days’ worth, or about 25 months, worth of oil at current rates of consumption. So offshore drilling will threaten the long-term health of our precious coastlines and increase the risks of another devastating oil spill without benefiting anyone but Big Oil.

In the next few weeks, the Trump administration is expected to release an updated proposal to expand offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. That’s why more than a thousand coastal businesses and elected officials have spoken out to Department of Interior in opposition to new offshore oil drilling in U.S. waters. In total, over 48,000 businesses on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts have now opposed new offshore drilling. Our nation’s coastal tourism, recreation and fishing industries rely on clean water and healthy beaches. They provide 12 times the amount of jobs in comparison to offshore oil production. New offshore drilling is a lose-lose, short-sighted approach that ignores massive bipartisan opposition and threatens the drivers of our nation’s coastal economies, businesses and communities for this and future generations.
Read more » click here

Coastal states mount bipartisan resistance as Trump forges ahead with offshore drilling plans
Republican-led Southern coastal states are among a large coalition opposing the president’s plans.
Read more » click here

U.S. Interior official suggests Trump drilling proposal will include Atlantic: recording
The Trump administration is likely to open up portions of the Atlantic to oil and gas drilling despite opposition from East Coast states, a U.S. Interior Department official suggested in remarks at a recent energy industry conference, a recording of which was reviewed by Reuters.
Read more » click here

The objections to offshore drilling are economic, environmental and bipartisan
Offshore drilling in the Atlantic and the related seismic airgun blasting used to identify oil and gas deposits pose unacceptable risks to East Coast economies, marine life and our environment.

But the Trump administration, with a “drill baby, drill” mind-set, has awarded permits allowing five companies to “incidentally” harass whales, dolphins and other marine life by performing deafening seismic blasting — the precursor to oil and gas drilling — from Cape May, N.J., to Cape Canaveral, Fla.

While federal lawsuits aim to stop the rush to blast and drill, the Trump administration should abandon this precipitous course. Every state governor up and down the coast from both sides of the aisle is opposed to this terrible move, and coastal communities are united against it. President Trump has the opportunity to do the right, bipartisan thing by stopping these permits from moving forward — or the courts may decide for him.

The Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina coasts, which boast some of the best beaches, magnificent natural habitats and robust coastal economies on the Eastern Seaboard, are firmly in the oil industry’s crosshairs.

For Virginia, offshore drilling would put 86,000 jobs and $4.8 billion in GDP from coastal tourism and fishing at risk, according to the environmental and conservation group Oceana. For Maryland, 96,000 jobs and $6 billion would be imperiled, while in North Carolina, offshore drilling would threaten 51,000 jobs and $2.2 billion in GDP. This when there is little demand for more oil.

But let’s not forget about the impact on marine life.

In Virginia and Maryland, the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab, the protagonist in William W. Warner’s Pulitzer-winning Beautiful Swimmers, have survived just about every attack thrown its way — overharvesting, pollution and habitat destruction among others. Now, one threat looms that may be their death knell.

Maryland often takes credit for the blue crab, but every bay crab is born a Virginian. Pregnant females spend the winter at the mouth of the bay, then release their larvae to float as far as 50 miles out into the ocean, directly where energy companies are proposing to test and drill.

When they grow fins, they dive to the bottom and ride underwater currents back to the bay. Until then, they are vulnerable, and an oil spill could be their undoing, potentially killing an entire year of juvenile crabs. That’s to say nothing of the impact on other finfish and shellfish.

If implemented, seismic airgun blasts — which are used to identify offshore deposits and can be heard up to 2,500 miles away — would occur five million times, or every 10 seconds for weeks on end, disrupting turtle mating, whale migrating, fish feeding and other marine activities along the entire East Coast.

Among the louder noises in oceans, the blasts would endanger communities of beaked whales, which are particularly sensitive to underwater noise, off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, and could irreparably harm North Atlantic right whales, which are on the verge of extinction, with only 400 remaining in the Atlantic.

When the blasting is over, it’s time for the drilling. With oil spills, it’s not a question of if, but when, and the results can be catastrophic. The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster spilled 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, killed 11 workers and caused fisheries to lose $8.7 billion and 22,000 jobs by 2020. But leaving Deepwater aside, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says that another 2,440 oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico between 1964 and 2015 discharged more than 12 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. A 2016 survey of the oil industry found an average 23 spills a day across the United States.

Offshore wells also pollute the air. An typical oil and gas exploration well releases roughly 50 tons of nitrogen oxides, 13 tons of carbon monoxide and six tons of sulfur oxides a year. And what goes up does come down. Almost 30 percent of the Bay’s nitrogen pollution, the chemical responsible for underwater dead zones, arrives on the wind, and introducing a new pollution source would put the bay’s fragile recovery at risk.

Communities up and down the east coast have voted to oppose offshore drilling. They all recognize the risk is simply not worth the meager rewards, if any, of more oil produced in an oil-glutted market on a planet with a rapidly changing climate threatening our very existence.

Now is the time to move away from expensive and inefficient fossil fuels toward a 21st-century regime of innovative, job-creating alternative energies that will promise a brighter future for all. And, at the same time, save precious marine life and coastal economies alike.
Read more » click here 


Previously reported –

Holden Beach Newsletter

 


Chemours has issued a press release announcing that the company will take measures to eliminate byproduct GenX wastewater emissions from its Fayetteville site.
Click here to view the release.

In order to keep citizens informed, Brunswick County has established a website to share information about GenX as they learn it. You can find this page at www.brunswickcountync.gov/genx. The website contains a FAQ section that they update as they learn additional information (or receive additional questions), links to all their press releases and links to other resources like information from NCDEQ. There is also a link where citizens can go to sign up to receive email updates on the topic.


The Public Information Officer for Brunswick County announced that the County has taken legal action against DuPont and Chemours for contaminating the Cape Fear River.

10.31.2017
Statement from Brunswick County
The filing of formal legal action against Chemours and DuPont represents another crucial step in protecting our public drinking water supply. It sends a clear message that Brunswick County will simply not stand for the discharge of emerging or unregulated chemicals into our public drinking water supply. Let us be clear…we will ensure that any company that threatens this vital resource is held responsible. Furthermore, our litigation team is consulting the nation’s leading experts to determine the best long-term water testing and treatment methods for the entire county. As part of that, we will ensure that the costs for doing so do not fall upon the rate payers, but upon those dumping the unregulated chemicals in the water.
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Previously reported – February 2019
Updated consent order requires Chemours to consider GenX in river
Chemours would have to analyze GenX and other chemicals in the Cape Fear River sediment and measure chemicals’ levels at raw water intakes, according to a revised consent order between the chemical giant, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Cape Fear River Watch. In Wilmington, officials and utilities expressed concerns that the original agreement — released Thanksgiving eve — required Chemours to provide water treatment technology to homes around the Fayetteville Works plant while leaving downstream utilities to foot the bill for ongoing contamination. Both the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) and New Hanover County passed resolutions calling for the order to provide additional protections for downstream residents. According to a document prepared by DEQ, changes to the order include requiring Chemours to provide an “accelerated” plan reducing per- and polyfluoroalykl sbustances (PFAS) contamination in the Cape Fear River, to submit monthly reports to regulators about PFAS emissions at the plant, and to update the corrective plan as new technology becomes available.
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Update –
Judge signs GenX consent order
Agreement with DEQ, Cape Fear River Watch means Chemours will need to meet PFAS emissions and water contamination benchmarks
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Lockwood Folly Inlet Dredging


Previously reported – December 2018
Holden Beach inlet board recommends pursuing sand project
Holden Beach’s inlet and beach protection board recommended town commissioners pursue a project that could mean sand being placed on the east end of Holden Beach. In an email sent to Town Manager David Hewett, Oak Island Town Manager David Kelly and Brunswick County Manager Ann Hardy, Deputy County Manager Steve Stone said the county received a grant award contract from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Water Resources for the Lockwood Folly Navigation Project submitted last summer. The application indicated the county would work to place the resultant beach-quality material, estimated to be in the range of 250,000 cubic yards, on one of the two beaches. The county is seeking feedback from Holden Beach and Oak Island before it pursues the project. Stone said county originally proposed paying 25 percent of the required local share, or $344,338, with the remaining 75 percent, or $1,033,013, to be paid by the town receiving the sand. Stone said DWR staff members are aware the project is unlikely to happen before fall 2019 but extending the period of performance could be granted. He said the county hopes to hear back from both municipalities by early January. In its recommendation, the inlet board raised concerns such as what type of impact the removal of 250,000 cubic yards of sand for the project will have on both Holden Beach’s east end and Oak Island.
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Corps Puts Limits On Dredged Sand Disposal
Getting permission to dump sand in federally maintained dredged material disposal areas may not be entirely impossible, but a nationwide policy heavily restricts access for North Carolina coastal municipalities and businesses that have long relied on the sites. If the Army Corps of Engineers’ Wilmington District office, along with local and state officials, can come up with ways to work around the policy, all indications are that it could come at a hefty price for non-federal users, including beach towns and private marina owners. The policy indicates that while non-federal projects may apply to dispose of material on a Corps-maintained site if the project meets specific requirements, most federal projects are perpetual, and therefore “few” sites will have extra space. Though the Corps’ nationwide guideline is more than a year old – it became effective Feb. 3, 2017 – word of it has gradually spread along the North Carolina coast.
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Previously reported – February 2019
USACE dredge boat Murden replaced the Merritt and will be here until February 25th as long as conditions remain favorable. Murden deposits sand nearshore which is more beneficial than the side-caster Merritt, but not as good as putting it on the beach with a pipeline project. The good news is it is placing the sand off our beach, not Oak Island’s. That sand is then in “the system” and will eventually append to our beach – not just fall back in the inlet.

Group Seeks Corps’ OK on Dredge Spoil Plan
The North Carolina Beach, Inlet and Waterway Association is rolling out a plan that, if approved, would allow municipalities and private businesses to once again unload sand in federally maintained dredged material disposal areas in the state. Members of the nonprofit, also referred to as NCBIWA and pronounced “N.C. byway,” met recently with officials from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Wilmington district and staff from U.S. House and Senate offices to kick off a campaign that would scale back the nationwide ban on the use of the Corps-maintained disposal sites. The initial move in what is being described as a two-pronged approach is to get the Corps to narrow the ban to deep-draft navigation projects, which are those where a channel is maintained deeper than 16 feet.

The Corps’ February 2017 guidance was made to conserve space within its disposal sites after millions of cubic yards of material dredged from non-federal projects were placed in a single dredged material placement facility, or DMPF, in Galveston, Texas. Limiting the rule to deep-draft navigation projects would offer North Carolina municipalities and small businesses the opportunity to dump dredge spoil pumped from shallow-draft projects onto federally managed disposal areas. “In our minds, that would allow Wilmington district to evaluate on a case-by-case (basis), ‘will this project impact future capacity?’” said Robert Neal, NCBIWA treasurer.

A majority of North Carolina’s inlets are shallow-draft navigation channels, meaning they are no more than 15 feet deep. The shipping lane of the Cape Fear River and Beaufort Inlet are the only deep-draft channels in the state. Seventeen of North Carolina’s 19 navigable inlets are shallow-draft inlets, which tend to shoal more rapidly than deep-draft inlets and therefore require more frequent dredging to keep them unclogged and navigable. “They need to hear from us how this is affecting us,” said Kathleen Riely, NCBIWA executive director, referring to officials in the Corps’ office in Washington, D.C. “I think they need to hear from us directly, ‘look, this is what it’s done.’” So far, Wilmington district officials have declined requests from two small businesses and three towns in the state to use Corps DMPFs. Those projects included maintenance dredging at Ocean Isle Beach, Holden Beach and Sunset Beach in Brunswick County and Bradley Creek Marina and Masonboro Yacht Club in New Hanover County. They included more than 100,000 cubic yards of sand and “potentially” more than $1 million, according to information provided by NCBIWA. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, NCBIWA officials said. Marinas and other small businesses, and several beach towns, including Southport and Oak Island in Brunswick County, Topsail Beach in Pender County and other communities will experience hardships as a result of the policy. Without access to federally maintained disposal areas, non-federal entities are limited to hauling dredged material by truck to upland areas. Neal referred to such operations as “bucket and barge.” “We’re talking about small businesses so the additional cost of that is a significant cost on them,” he said.

The Corps manages about 218 DMPFs totaling more than 5,000 acres in North Carolina. Some of those sites have not been used. “We’ve got a couple we’re worried about,” said Justin McCorcle, an attorney with the Corps’ Wilmington district. One facility near Masonboro Inlet in New Hanover County is full, he said. The Coast Guard gave the Corps $1 million to raise the dikes at a facility near the Southport Marina in Brunswick County. “Utilization of that capacity that the U.S. Coast Guard paid for is difficult,” McCorcle said. “Obviously in the Wilmington district we’re not in the position to advocate a change to our policy or particularly talk about how it is likely to be changed. We were not closely involved in the drafting of it. What we can express is what our concerns are and what we would be looking for moving forward. How do we make sure we have those available? I think we would want some sort of plan for what to do when an area became full. I think that would be the basic issue.” A majority of the federally maintained dredge disposal areas in North Carolina are state owned, but the easements to the Corps are in perpetuity. Neal said North Carolina is behind other coastal states like Florida and New Jersey, which have historic dredge disposal site management plans. The idea, though, is for North Carolina to eventually have its own dredge management plan.

“We have short-term issues that need to be resolved and then we’re working on a long-term plan down the road,” Riely said. NCBIWA is requesting a five-year grace period for the Corps’ Wilmington district and the state to work together to create such a plan. “What we would like to do is propose something in unison with the district and the state,” Neal said. Part of the work will be getting a handle on how often the sites will be used and how much material is expected to be disposed of within the sites. “It’s a risk calculation,” McCorcle said. “Are there critical dredging issues at these facilities? What kinds of quantities? Are there adequate facilities nearby and do those appear to have adequate capacity? How can we identify the risk and make sure the (Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway) stays navigable?”
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Update –
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Corrections & Amplifications –


The National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically.
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Previously reported – December 2018
National Flood Insurance Program: Reauthorization
Congress must periodically renew the NFIP’s statutory authority to operate. On July 31, 2018, the President signed legislation passed by Congress that extends the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) authorization to November 30, 2018. Congress must now reauthorize the NFIP by no later than 11:59 pm on May 31, 2019.

FEMA and Congress have never failed to honor the flood insurance contracts in place with NFIP policyholders. Should the NFIP’s authorization lapse, FEMA would still have authority to ensure the payment of valid claims with available funds. However, FEMA would stop selling and renewing policies for millions of properties in communities across the nation. Nationwide, the National Association of Realtors estimates that a lapse might impact approximately 40,000 home sale closings per month.

NFIP reauthorization is an opportunity for Congress to take bold steps to reduce the complexity of the program and strengthen the NFIP’s financial framework so that the program can continue helping individuals and communities take the critical step of securing flood insurance. The level of damage from the 2017 hurricanes makes it abundantly clear that FEMA needs a holistic plan to ready the Nation for managing the cost of catastrophic flooding under the NFIP.
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Private Flood Insurance Gets Boost from Regulators
Flood insurance policies not backed by the government currently represent less than 5% of the residential market
The number of flood insurance policies underwritten by private companies could triple under a new federal rule that would require mortgage lenders to accept both private and government-backed policies.

The rule, approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency late last week, is aimed at boosting the availability of private flood insurance in flood zones, a market dominated by a multibillion-dollar government program. It could usher in private flood insurance for hundreds of thousands of residential properties in those areas, according to government estimates. “This ruling has the potential to open up the private insurance market,” said Michael Barry, a spokesman at the industry-funded Insurance Information Institute. He said the effect was likely to be concentrated in Florida, Louisiana and Texas, where most of the nation’s flood insurance policies are held.

The private-sector insurance industry historically has been reluctant to write flood insurance because of the potential for large losses, but interest has grown in recent years with the improvement of mapping and modeling technologies. Private flood insurance policies currently represent less than 5% of the residential market, according to government and academic research. Most private flood insurance is for commercial and more expensive residential properties that need coverage above the federal program’s $250,000 limit.

The public program had more than five million policies outstanding and $1.3 trillion in potential claims as of July 2018. It is operated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “If the private market can take care of it, that’s just more sustainable for taxpayers and for society in general,” said R.J. Lehmann, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute, a libertarian policy organization that has argued for shrinking the government flood insurance program.

The regulation is set to go into effect in July, as the next hurricane season gets under way. It stems from a provision in a 2012 flood insurance law that sought to partially address financial pressures on the government’s flood insurance program, which is deeply in debt from record disaster payouts in recent years and limitations on its ability to increase premiums.

Congress has for years debated how to fix the National Flood Insurance Program, created about 50 years ago because private insurers were unwilling to risk catastrophic flood losses. Lawmakers, divided based on the prevalence of floods in their districts, have approved only partial solutions such as premium increases or debt forgiveness for the government program. The government, for instance, wrote off $16 billion in debt for the federal program in 2017 following claims made in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Congress must reauthorize the federal insurance program this year. It is expected to discuss additional ways to overhaul the federal program, such as redrawing the maps that dictate where coverage is required and making it financially stable.

Opponents of opening up the flood insurance market argue private insurers could cherry-pick safer properties that could be cheaper to insure, saddling the public program with riskier ones. And some lawmakers, including Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), have called for increasing controls over the private flood insurance sector.

The rule would require lenders to accept private flood insurance policies that have coverage at least as comprehensive as what is offered by the federal program. Banks also could allow policies that aren’t as comprehensive as government flood insurance, a move backed by the insurance industry but opposed by some consumer advocates because it could concentrate riskier insurance policies in the federal plan.

Narrower coverage will “appeal more to lower risk people and then leave the National Flood Insurance Program principally with higher risk people,” said Daniel Schwarz, a professor at University of Minnesota Law School. Three other regulators, including the Federal Reserve, must still approve the rule.
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Update –
National Flood Insurance Program needs long-term reauthorization to address key challenges
As the House Financial Services Committee meets this week to discuss reauthorizing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), there is a lot at stake. The NFIP, on which 5 million Americans depend for protection from flooding, began with the best of intentions — reducing the burden on federal taxpayers stemming from flood relief while providing resources to help devastated communities rebuild. But as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman was fond of saying, “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.” Judged by its results, the NFIP is badly in need of serious changes to address its massive debt, persistent operating deficits, and many structural flaws — all of which expose taxpayers to financial risk. With the NFIP’s authorization set to expire in May, Congress has an opportunity to enact real reforms that will put the NFIP on a sustainable, fiscally-responsible footing. Lawmakers should begin to chart a future for the NFIP that addresses its key challenges.

One of the NFIP’s biggest flaws is that it masks the true flood risk of properties by offering a significant portion of its policyholders heavily subsidized rates. One in five homeowners with NFIP protection pay less than half the full cost of their policy. No one begrudges low-income homeowners who need financial assistance to purchase coverage, but most of the NFIP’s subsidies actually go to homes with the highest values. A study by the Congressional Budget Office found that the median value of homes with NFIP coverage is about double that of all American homes. Not only that, but wealthier households tend to get much larger subsidies than middle-income homeowners. Ending these handouts to the wealthy and refocusing resources on the truly needy is essential. Limiting NFIP subsidies would have another positive effect. Currently, by shielding policyholders from the full cost of building in a flood zone, the government encourages more houses to be constructed in disaster-prone areas than if homeowners bore the costs of flooding themselves. Transferring more of the flood risk from federal taxpayers to individual homeowners would cause them to think twice about where to build their home.

But setting risk-based premiums is impossible without accurate flood maps. Many of the 22,000 communities that participate in the NFIP currently rely on outdated and inaccurate flood maps. A recent audit found that only 42 percent of the NFIP’s maps “adequately identified the level of flood risk.” Without better mapping that incorporates improvements in engineering methods and technology, full-risk insurance rates cannot be accurately determined, and homeowners and local policymakers may be misled about the true flood vulnerability of their communities.

Another issue that merits more attention is mitigation. The best way to reduce insurance premiums for homeowners is to lessen the risk of flood loss. Making communities more resilient to flooding before disasters strike by adopting better zoning and building codes and other measures can significantly reduce the cost of cleaning up after floods. Studies have shown that for every $1 invested in mitigation, society saves $6 in rebuilding costs. Overall, so-called “repetitive loss properties,” structures that are damaged and repaired over and over again, account for about 1-2 percent of the NFIP’s total policies but have been responsible for 30 percent of claims since the program began in 1968. One Mississippi home worth $70,000 filed 34 claims with the NFIP from 1978 to 2010 totaling $663,000 — more than 9 times the value of the house. Through more aggressive mitigation incentives, policymakers could reduce this massive drain on the NFIP’s finances.

Congress should also resolve ambiguities in federal law that have limited the growth of private flood insurance; currently, private insurance only makes up 4 percent of the residential market. Greater private-sector involvement in flood insurance would benefit both consumers — many of whom could find lower rates and more flexible options through private carriers — and taxpayers by reducing the NFIP’s financial exposure.

Rather than continue postponing meaningful reforms to the NFIP with short-term stop-gaps, Congress should work over the next several months to craft a long-term solution to the NFIP’s challenges. Without reform, the NFIP’s precarious financial position will only grow worse, to the detriment of taxpayers and homeowners alike.
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House Financial Services Committee Issues Hearing Memo on National Flood Insurance Program
Subject: March 13, 2019, Full Committee Hearing Entitled: “Preparing for the Storm: Reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program”

Background
Prior to 1950, flood insurance was a peril often included in standard homeowners’ insurance policies. However, in response to an increasing frequency and severity in flood- related losses in the 1950s, insurance companies began excluding flood insurance coverage and selling it separately. By the 1960s, widespread flooding along the Mississippi River caused most private insurers to flee the business of flood insurance altogether, leaving many consumers with virtually no access to private flood insurance.1 The lack of availability of flood insurance for consumers left them vulnerable in the event of a flood, and also left taxpayers vulnerable to bearing the costs of flood damage through post-disaster relief in the case of a flood event.

In direct response to this private market failure, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created in 1968 with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act (NFIA). In doing so, Congress determined that “as a matter of national policy, a reasonable method of sharing the risk of flood losses is through a program of flood insurance which can complement and encourage preventive and protective measures” and that transferring the costs of private property flood losses from the general taxpayer to individuals in the floodplains through premiums would ease the strain on the nation’s limited disaster resources. Congress also passed the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 (FDPA) that requires most property owners in a designated Special Flood Hazard Area to purchase flood insurance.

The last long-term reauthorization of the NFIP occurred when Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12), which was subsequently amended by the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA). Since the end of fiscal year (FY) 2017, the NFIP has been reauthorized ten times and has experienced brief lapses. According to the National Association of Realtors, an estimated 40,000 home sales are lost or interrupted every month that the NFIP’s authority lapses. The NFIP’s authorization is currently set to expire on May 31, 2019. In the event of a lapse, NFIP will be unable to enter into new flood insurance contracts, which will lead to widespread market instability due to the stalling of mortgage processing for homes that are statutorily required to have flood insurance.

Several Members of Congress have put forward legislative proposals to reauthorize the NFIP and make programmatic reforms to promote affordability, protect policyholders, and improve flood mapping and floodplain management.

Overview of the NFIP
The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) through its Federal Insurance & Mitigation Administration (FIMA). The NFIP was designed to serve two interrelated goals: (1) provide access to primary flood insurance and (2) reduce flood risk through the adoption of floodplain management standards. The NFIP advances these goals by offering primary flood insurance exclusively for properties in communities that adopt minimum floodplain management standards under FEMA regulations. The NFIP also administers the Community Rating System (CRS), which is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes communities for implementing floodplain management practices that exceed the NFIP’s minimum requirements and, in exchange, FIMA offers reduced flood insurance premiums to policyholders.

Today, the NFIP is the principal provider of primary flood insurance in the U.S., covering over 5 million households and businesses across the country for a total of over $1.3 trillion in flood insurance coverage. As of the end of FY 2018, approximately 22,324 communities participate in the NFIP, covering an estimated 93 percent of the U.S. population. According to FEMA, the NFIP saves the nation an estimated $1.87 billion annually in flood losses avoided because of the NFIP’s building and floodplain management regulations.

In 1983, FEMA created the Write Your Own (WYO) Program in an effort to: increase the NFIP’s policy base and geographic distribution of policies; improve service to NFIP policyholders through infusion of insurance industry knowledge and capacity; and, provide the insurance industry with direct operating experience with flood insurance. This WYO Program operates as a partnership between FEMA and participating property and casualty insurance companies that are compensated to write and service NFIP policies. The WYOs assume none of the risk by participating in this program. FEMA retains all of the insurance risk and underwrites any losses. Currently, approximately 60 different companies administer about 87 percent of NFIP policies through the WYO Program. The remainder of NFIP’s policies are provided through the Direct Program, which is operated by a government contractor and performs the same basic functions as a WYO company.

The NFIP offers a Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) for properties in participating communities within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). By virtue of the mandatory purchase required by law, most property owners within the SFHA are required to purchase flood insurance. Many of the SFIP’s policy terms are set in statute. The maximum coverage amount for building coverage is $250,000 for single-family homes, and $500,000 for multi-family residential properties, and non-residential properties including commercial properties. The maximum coverage amount for contents only is $100,000.9 If the SFIP’s maximum coverage amounts are insufficient to cover the full value of the property, policyholders may have the option of obtaining excess flood insurance in the private market.

The NFIP also offers coverage for properties that are not within a SFHA, usually as a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRPs include similar coverage but at discounted rates in accordance with their lower risk profile. If a property has a significant loss history, that policyholder may become ineligible for a PRP and would need to purchase a SFIP that is commensurate with the flood risk.

The NFIP’s Financial Status
The NFIP is largely self-funded through insurance premiums collected from policy holders. Policyholders are also assessed a number of surcharges and other fees. In FY 2018, policyholders paid $382 million in surcharges, $188.162 million in federal policy fees, and $496.82 million in reserve fund assessments. A portion of these premiums, fees, surcharges, and assessments goes towards the cost of flood mapping and floodplain management. A large portion also goes to paying interest on debt of the NFIP.

Congress designed the NFIP as a program that would operate on a cash flow basis, borrowing from the Treasury in bad years and returning funds to the Treasury in good years. The NFIP was largely self-supporting in this way from 1986 until 2005, but due to extraordinary losses incurred as a result of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in 2005, and then Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the program currently carries a debt of $20.5 billion.11 It is also important to note that a significant portion of the NFIP’s debt accrued as a result of Hurricane Katrina ($19 billion) could not possibly have been properly accounted for in NFIP’s risk modeling; specifically, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers took responsibility for engineering and design failures in the levees that should have been able to provide far better protection for New Orleans in the face of Katrina.

Taxpayers are not on the hook for this debt and receive millions of dollars in interest payments every year (currently approximately $400 million annually or a total of $4.2 billion since 2005) at the expense of policyholders. In 2017, following a proposal submitted by OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, Congress passed legislation to partially forgive $16 billion of the NFIP’s debt of $30.4 billion, after the NFIP’s debt ballooned following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria and other historic flooding that year.

Affordability Challenges
In 2018, FEMA submitted its congressionally mandated Affordability Framework demonstrating, among other things, that low-income homeowners and renters face significant affordability challenges. The report documents that those that are least able to afford higher premiums tend to live in the highest flood hazard areas writing, “generally, incomes are higher outside the SFHA than they are inside the SFHA. The median household income for residential policyholders is $82,000, although it is substantially lower in the SFHA than outside the SFHA.” Further, FEMA found that “the combination of higher premiums and lower incomes in the SFHA creates affordability pressure on households.”

Draft Legislation
* Waters_009 is a discussion draft that would reauthorize the NFIP through September 30, 2024 and address a number of affordability issues such as: 1) forgiving the NFIP’s debt; 2) creating a 5-year demonstration for means-tested assistance to low-income policyholders; 3) reducing fees and surcharges; 4) revising the NFIP’s coverage limits; 5) enabling policyholders to pay premiums in monthly installments; and 6) creating a state revolving loan fund modeled after legislation previously introduced by Rep. Crist.

* Maj_Mitigation is a discussion draft that would make several improvements to floodplain management and mitigation such as: 1) raising the amount of funds available under Increased Cost of Compliance program and expanding the eligible mitigation activities to include the cost of acquisitions, among others; 2) granting the Administrator discretion to consider the extent to which communities are working to remedy problems with repeatedly flooded areas when administering mitigation assistance; 3) granting credits for alternative forms of mitigation, allowing coverage for coops and community-based policies; and 5) authorizing and flood plain management activities.

* Maj_Mapping is a discussion draft that would reauthorize the flood mapping program and provide funding to support flood mapping. It would also make several improvements to the mapping program such as: 1) requiring the most up-to-date technology, and more advanced and granular flood maps; 2) improving the process for policyholders and communities to appeal FEMA’s mapping decisions; and 3) creating new flood map zones for levee-impacted and for agricultural areas.

* Velazq_035 is a bill that would make numerous improvements to the claims process drawing on the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy. The bill would ensure that policyholders better understand the terms of their flood insurance policies and improve the appeals and litigation process for consumers
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Climate Advocates Cheer Trump Policy Shift on Flood Insurance

  • Premiums to be based on full flood risk starting in late 2020
  • Change expected to raise costs for the most deluge-prone homes

Climate advocates say an overhaul of the nation’s flood insurance program being unveiled by the Trump administration will spur communities around the country to better plan for extreme weather, but could drive up costs for some homeowners.

The changes being announced Monday by the Federal Emergency Management Agency represent one of the most significant reforms in the history of the National Flood Insurance Program. It will tie premiums to the actual flood risk facing individual homes nationwide starting in October 2020. The current system sets prices based largely on whether a home is inside or outside of the 100-year flood plain.
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Trump Administration Plans Flood Insurance Overhaul
Expensive properties could see rate increases under new FEMA plan
The Trump administration said Monday it plans to overhaul government-subsidized flood insurance, in a sweeping proposal that could raise rates on more expensive properties and those in higher-risk areas. The new system would affect policies for most homeowners who own property in flood-prone areas, where such coverage is required because few private companies offer flood insurance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which runs the National Flood Insurance Program, said the plan would start assessing properties individually according to several variables—including hurricane rainfall, coastal surges and the distance to a body of water—rather than applying one formula across an entire flood zone when assessing flood risk and contract cost. The government also would factor in the replacement cost of the home, which could push up premiums for homeowners with higher-valued properties and decrease those with lower-cost homes. FEMA plans to announce the new rates on April 1, 2020 and implement them starting Oct. 1 that year. They could affect more than 5 million single-family policyholders of public flood insurance. The NFIP covers both coastal flood zones and inland river flood plains, though the policy change may have a greater impact in coastal states including Florida, Louisiana and Texas, where most of the policies are held.

The changes are likely to stoke a longstanding debate over flood insurance, with policy makers divided over how much the public should subsidize the program. While those in coastal areas have advocated for more federal funding, both environmentalists and fiscal conservatives have argued the program encourages building in risky flood-prone zones. FEMA has increasingly struggled to pay off claims after a series of natural disasters in recent years. The government wrote off $16 billion in debt for the federal program in 2017 following claims made in the aftermath of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Scientists say the frequency of such events is influenced by climate change. FEMA’s current system calculates rates based on whether a home falls in a designated flood zone. Since higher-valued properties are more likely to hit the $250,000 insurance cap because they face costlier damages, “there’s an inequity,” said David Maurstad, FEMA’s deputy associate administrator for insurance and mitigation. “Lower-value homes are paying proportionately more than higher-value homes.” “What we’re going to do is change an insurance-rating structure that hasn’t fundamentally been changed since the 1970s,” Mr. Maurstad added. “We’re going to consider more flood risk than we currently do now.” The changes would also leverage new loss-estimation technology, said Mr. Maurstad. In recent years, private insurers have developed increasingly sophisticated models that account for variables including climate change. The agency hopes that a more risk-sensitive pricing could attract more homeowners to purchase flood insurance, even if they aren’t required to. “People even outside the high-risk area will have a better understanding of what the specific risk is,” said Mr. Maurstad. “They will take the responsible action and insure for flood just like they insure for windstorms, hail and fire.”

FEMA faces Congressional restrictions on how much it can increase rates, so the agency could phase in the rate changes, said Mr. Maurstad. It plans to make more details of the plan public in the coming weeks, he added. For years, Congress has debated how to modernize the financially beleaguered flood-insurance program, created about 50 years ago because private insurers were unwilling to risk catastrophic flood losses. Lawmakers are set to reauthorize the federal insurance program this year, after granting a short-term extension in December.
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Inlet Hazard Areas

Previously reported – January 2019
New proposed rules could significantly impact real estate property values
Significantly expands area covered on the island
       •
by .4 miles on the east end
.        •
by 1.7 miles on the west end
Coastal Resource Commission report to be presented at their February meeting

Panel Proposes Redrawn Inlet Hazard Areas
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Coastal Resources Commission
CRC Science Panel / Inlet Hazard Area (IHA) Delineation Update
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Update –
CRC Advances New Inlet Hazard Maps, Rules
The North Carolina Coastal Resources Commission has approved preliminary boundaries and building rules at inlets. Though official adoption of the redrawn inlet hazard area, or IHA, maps and guidelines for development within those areas is still months away, the CRC’s decision last week puts the state one step closer to amending the current outdated maps.

North Carolina Division of Coastal Management Director Braxton Davis told members of the commission at the quarterly meeting Thursday that the regulatory agency understands the revised maps are going to be a topic of controversy in the coastal towns at inlets. “These maps were done in 1981,” he said. “We have IHAs that don’t even capture some of these areas.” A little more than 2,900 acres of land is designated as IHA at 10 of the 19 active inlets in the state. The 10 are: Tubbs, Shallotte and Lockwood Folly inlets in Brunswick County; Carolina Beach, Masonboro, Mason and Rich inlets in New Hanover County; New Topsail Inlet in Pender County; New River Inlet in Onslow County; and Bogue Inlet in Carteret County. The CRC approved removing IHA designations at inlets where the adjacent land is undeveloped and owned either by the state or federal government.

IHAs are defined as shorelines especially vulnerable to erosion and flooding where inlets can shift suddenly and dramatically. Inlets typically move over time in one of two ways. An inlet migrates, meaning it moves in one general direction, or it oscillates, wagging back and forth. A majority of the state’s inlets oscillate. Long-term erosion rates are about five times greater at oceanfront shorelines near inlets. The proposed maps expand current IHAs collectively by a little more than 1,359 acres while removing about 470 acres from existing boundaries at the 10 developed inlets. A majority of IHAs are being expanded under the proposed boundaries. The preliminary maps place an additional 152 acres and 243 structures within an ocean hazard area of environmental concern, or AECs. Ocean hazard AECs are defined as those that may be easily destroyed by erosion or flooding or may have environmental, social, economic or aesthetic values that make it valuable to the state.

Rules governing development within IHAs were established to control density and structure size along the shorelines affected by the dynamic waterways. The proposed setbacks have been established through years of work by the science panel that advises the CRC. The science panel studied historical shoreline data at each inlet, then used that information to predict erosion and accretion rates at those inlets. DCM has established building setbacks in the new boundaries based on the annual inlet erosion rates rather than the oceanfront erosion rates now. For some of the inlets, this method of calculation equates to no change in the current building setbacks. For others, the setbacks vary. Current rules do not allow lots about one-third of an acre in size to be subdivided. Residential structures of four units or fewer or nonresidential structures of less than 5,000 square feet are only allowed on lots within an IHA. The updated rules maintain the size limitation to no more than 5,000 square feet of heated space and remove restrictions on the number of units allowed in a structure. Larger structures that would be included in the new boundaries would be grandfathered under the rules.

North Topsail Beach Alderman Mike Benson expressed his concerns about condominiums at the north end of town that would be grandfathered in under the new maps. Benson told the commission during a public hearing on the proposed IHA map changes that the revised boundary at New River Inlet would include 11 buildings that are all larger than 5,000 square feet. If any of those buildings were to be destroyed in a hurricane or fire, Benson wanted to know if they could be rebuilt. DCM shoreline management specialist Ken Richardson clarified that structures between 5,000 and 10,000 square feet could be rebuilt to the same footprint. The owners of a structure greater than 10,000 square feet, such as Shell Island Resort in Wrightsville Beach, could request a variance from the CRC to rebuild. Richardson said he will turn over DCM’s recommended changes to the state Office of State Budget and Management for review. Once that office confirms its findings, a series of public meetings will be held where the public will get an opportunity to comment on the maps and rules. Richardson said he hopes those meetings will kick off some time in the spring and that revised maps are adopted by year’s end. If adopted, the new IHA boundaries would be updated every five years.
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Odds & Ends

Frontal Dune Policies
Previously reported – March 2017
Ordinance 17-04, Beach Regulations / Amendment to § 94.03 / Frontal Dune Policies

Ordinance gives some property owners options, that is they may install a walkway past the frontal dune to the last stable line of vegetation. This really is only applicable to the west end properties beyond the 1200 block. It addresses their concerns and recognizes the circumstances that dunes are being traversed to the detriment of the environment. Operative word here is MAY, property owner makes the call.

Update –
Two years later and there are nine (9) walkways and several more are scheduled to be built before the tourist season begins. Who would have thought it?


HOLDEN BEACH LAND USE PLAN / PUBLIC INPUT MEETING
A public input meeting will be held on Thursday, February 7th at 7:00 p.m. in the Town Hall Public Assembly. This meeting is held as part of the land use planning process for the Town of Holden Beach. Holden Beach’s Land Use Plan provides guidance to local decision-makers to achieve the long-term vision for the community. This allows local decision makers to be proactive rather than reactive and helps maintain Holden Beach as one of the finest family-oriented beaches on the East Coast of the United States. The meeting is structured to be engaging and informative.

Town’s Land Use Plan

Holden Beach residents give input for updated land use plan
Holden Beach residents at a Feb. 7 meeting with the Cape Fear Council of Governments (CFCOG) were able to give input on the town’s developing land use plan. Town commissioners voted in July to approve an agreement between the town and the CFCOG for a Coastal Area Management Act (CAMA) land use plan update. A land use plan is an official document containing goals, policies, analyses and maps that serves as a community’s blueprint for growth, Wes MacLeod, senior regional planner with CFCOG, told attendees at the special meeting, providing them with some of the data about the town already collected for the land use plan.

MacLeod provided history on the town’s population growth, which shows a decrease of more than 200 residents from the year 2000, with 787 permanent town residents, to 575 permanent residents in 2010. As of 2016 the number of permanent Holden Beach residents was 633. It’s estimated that the population will grow to 708 in 2020, 783 in 2025, 859 in 2030, 935 in 2035, 1,016 in 2040 and 1,095 by 2046. The median age for the town is 61.4, compared to the county’s median age of 50.9, and the state’s median age of 38.3. The majority of those living in Holden Beach are considered Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 74), making up 56.35 percent of the town. For the seasonal population, the most recent data from 2016 showed the peak seasonal overnight population estimate for Holden Beach at 16,811 people. The median value of owner-occupied housing in Holden Beach as of 2016 was $406,000.

MacLeod also showed information from the community survey update. He said CFCOG received 891 responses, including 810 property owner responses and 81 non-resident responses, including visitors and off-island residents. The survey showed Holden Beach residents when it comes to new private development desires, would most like to see more entertainment on the island like restaurants and theaters, low-density single-family residences and small businesses that serve the needs of residents. Survey takers said they consider the most important roles for the town to play in influencing the character of development on Holden Beach to be managing the density and intensity of new development by regulating the size and layout of buildings, protecting the beach and encouraging continued coastal storm damage reduction and beach protection and retaining and enhancing the community’s appearance through landscaping, signs, lighting and architectural standards. They also said coastal storm damage reduction, density development and environmental protections are the most important growth and development issues facing Holden Beach. When it comes to transportation issues, survey takers said the most important ones are maintenance of the town’s existing roadways, parking availability/public access congestion and roadway drainage. When asked to share their favorite things about Holden Beach, the most common responses from survey takers were its lack of commercial development, its uncrowded and clean beaches, its family-friendly atmosphere, its natural resources including the beaches and marshes, it’s quiet, off-season “solitude’ and the fact that the town is mostly made up of single-family houses.

Attendees were then given a brainstorming exercise. MacLeod wrote down on large pieces of paper what those at the meeting thought were the town’s most important assets, important issues and their desires for the future in Holden Beach. Attendees were then given dots to place next to the two of those they considered the most important. Preliminary results showed attendees saw the most important assets as the beach, the lack of commercial development, Lockwood Folly and the marshes and wetlands. The most important issues appeared to be rising sea levels, offshore drilling and stormwater. As for desires for the town, the most popular answers were sustainable growth, improving the causeway’s appearance and a fully maintained and marked inlet. MacLeod said the answers would be tallied by CFCOG to be used in the land use plan.
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This & That

Local leaders give loggerheads some love
A bill in the N.C. House would make the turtles a state animal
Their buggy black eyes, wiggly flippers and fierce determination to reach the sea have charmed Cape Fear locals for generations. Now, the loggerhead turtle could soon become an official state symbol.

House Bill 169, sponsored by Rep. Frank Iler, R-Brunswick, and Rep. Carson Smith, R-Pender, would make loggerheads the official saltwater reptile of North Carolina. Filed on Monday, the bill has a way to go before reaching the governor, but it’s already attracted a slew of co-sponsors, including Rep. Deb Butler, D-New Hanover. Named for their large, log-resembling heads, loggerheads live around the globe but are the most abundant turtles in North Carolina waters, according to the bill. Mother turtles come ashore to bury their eggs, and the nests hatch in a “boil” in which baby turtles scurry to the ocean. They’re also a fragile species. Depending on their location, the turtles are listed as endangered and threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
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Factoid That May Interest Only Me –
Ruined crops, salty soil:
How rising seas are poisoning North Carolina’s farmland
The salty patches were small, at first — scattered spots where soybeans wouldn’t grow, where grass withered and died, exposing expanses of bare, brown earth. But lately those barren patches have grown. On dry days, the salt precipitates out of the mud and the crystals make the soil sparkle in the sunlight. And on a damp and chilly afternoon in January, the salt makes Dawson Pugh furrow his brow in dismay. “It’s been getting worse,” the farmer tells East Carolina University hydrologist Alex Manda, who drove out to this corner of coastal North Carolina with a group of graduate students to figure out what’s poisoning Pugh’s land — and whether anything can be done to stop it. Of climate change’s many plagues — drought, insects, fires, floods — saltwater intrusion in particular sounds almost like a biblical curse. Rising seas, sinking earth and extreme weather are conspiring to cause salt from the ocean to contaminate aquifers and turn formerly fertile fields barren. A 2016 study in the journal Science predicted that 9 percent of the U.S. coastline is vulnerable to saltwater intrusion — a percentage likely to grow as the world continues to warm. Scientists are just beginning to assess the potential effect on agriculture, Manda said, and it’s not yet clear how much can be mitigated. “We spend a lot of time and money to try to prevent salt,” Pugh says. “I worry what the future is. If it keeps getting worse, will it be worth farming?” If farmers in coastal areas have any hope of protecting their land — and their livelihoods — the first step is to disentangle the complex web of causes that can send ocean water seeping into the ground beneath their feet. Though it’s known that saltwater intrusion is linked to sea-level rise caused by climate change, scientists aren’t certain exactly how salt winds up in farmers’ fields. One hypothesis is that strong winds may blow salt water from the sound into the canals and ditches that crisscross the county, which then leak into the soil. Another possibility is that the salt was left behind by storm-surge events and simply takes a long time to wash away. Or maybe the problem goes even deeper. Scientists are increasingly concerned that rising sea levels are shifting the “zone of transition” — the underground gradient where fresh groundwater meets salty seawater. This issue may be compounded by the slow sinking of North Carolina’s coastal plain since the end of the last ice age about 12,000 years ago.
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As Costs Skyrocket, More U.S. Cities Stop Recycling
With China no longer accepting used plastic and paper, communities are facing steep collection bills, forcing them to end their programs or burn or bury more waste.
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Things I Think I Think –

Dining #2Eating out is one of the great little joys of life.

Restaurant Review:
Dinner Club visits a new restaurant once a month. Ratings reflect the reviewer’s reaction to food, ambience and service, with price taken into consideration.
///// January 2019
Name:               Moore Street Oyster Bar
Cuisine:            American
Location:         110 E. Moore Street, Southport, NC 28461
Contact:           910.363.5115 / https://www.msob.org
Food:                 Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:            Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:       Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:                  Inexpensive <=17 / Moderate <=22 / Expensive <=27 / Exorbitant <=40
Rating:             Two Stars
The owners of Oliver’s have totally remodeled the historic building that most recently was The Pharmacy restaurant. MSOB is a casual, seafood establishment featuring coastal classics primarily serving an upscale bar food menu.  The menu is the same for lunch and dinner, with the stars of the show consisting of oysters and steamer pots. It’s a cool little place that is billed as an Oyster pub, with a huge bar and lots of TV’s they also have an extensive bourbon and craft beer selection. Although it just recently opened it’s already a very busy place. It’s a relatively small place with very limited seating; it was jammed on a Tuesday night in January. So, be cautious about making dining plans there during prime tourist season. It’s totally worth a visit.
///// June 2018
Name:               The Oyster Rock
Cuisine:
            Seafood
Location:         9931 Nance Street, Calabash NC
Contact:           910.579.6875 /
https://theoysterrock.com/
Food:                 Average / Very Good / Excellent / Exceptional
Service:            Efficient / Proficient / Professional / Expert
Ambience:       Drab / Plain / Distinct / Elegant
Cost:                  Inexpensive <=17 / Moderate <=22 / Expensive <=27 / Exorbitant <=40
Rating:             One Star
The Oyster Rock is a family-owned and operated waterfront Calabash seafood restaurant. The owners of the Boundary House and Clark’s have totally remodeled the restaurant location at what was Colemans. The décor is understated, overlooking the Calabash River, featuring indoor and outdoor dining options. All in all, we had a nice meal there, but it is really nothing special. The prices are those of an upscale restaurant and they just aren’t one.


Book Review:
Read several books from The New York Times best sellers fiction list monthly
Selection represents this month’s pick of the litter
/////

THE OTHER WOMAN
by Daniel Silva
This is the eighteenth entry in the bestselling Gabriel Allon series, which chronicles the adventures of an art restorer, assassin and master spy for the Israeli secret service. Gabriel, now the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service, is lured into the field for one final operation. He and his team are on a secret hunt for a Russian mole inside of British secret intelligence service M16.

 


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