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The mission of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is to support citizens and first responders to work together by building, sustaining and improving their capacity and to prepare, protect, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards, such as tornadoes, floods, fires and acts of nature or terrorism. On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
FEMA defines a floodway as a channel of a river, or other watercourse, and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood water without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than a designated height.
FEMA defines a floodplain as a land area that is susceptible to being inundated by flood waters from any source.
As compared to a floodplain, FEMA defines a flood as a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area, or two or more properties from overflow of inland waters, from unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source or from mudflow.
The flood insurance and Mitigation Administration (FIMA), a component of FEMA manages the National Flood Insurance program or NFIP. This program has three components:
By the City of Duncan participating in the NFIP it makes federally backed flood insurance available for homeowners, renters and business owners.
As part of its administration of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), FEMA publishes flood hazard maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps, FIRMs. The purpose of a FIRM is to show areas that are subject to flooding and the risk associated with these flood hazards.
One of the important factors of a FIRM is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), which indicates the areas with a 1% or greater chance for flooding in any given year. These areas are also referred to as a 100-year floodplain.
Another important feature is to show the elevation of the 100-year floodplain. The floodplain elevation is called the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). BFEs are shown on FIRMS and in profile view in the Flood Insurance Study. This information is required for completing an Elevation Certificate, to flood proof a structure, and to determine a flood insurance premium.
There are flood zones throughout the City which are shown on the FIRM. These zones indicate the type of floodplains within the SFHA. The flood zones consist of Zone AE for a 100-year floodplain. Zone X for either a 500-year floodplain or an area outside the 500-year floodplain. Zone AO for overland sheet flow with depths of one to three feet, and Zone A for “non-studied” floodplains that have not determined a Base Flood Elevation.
The term 100-year flood is misleading. It is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. Rather it is a flood that has a 1% chance of being equal to or exceeding each year. Because of this, the 100-year flood could occur more than once in a relatively short period of time.
According to FEMA.gov and the NFIP, another way to analyze the flood risk is to contemplate the odds that a 100-year flood will occur sometime during the life of a 30-year mortgage. A structure located within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), shown on a National Flood Insurance Rate Map, has a 26% chance of suffering flood damage during the term of a 30- year mortgage. Even these numbers do not convey the true flood risk since it focuses on the larger, less frequent floods. If the topography of a house is low enough, it may be subject to the 10- or 25-year flood. Assuming a 30-year mortgage, it may have a 26% chance of being affected by a 100-year flood, but the probability is 96% for the structure to be affected by a 10-year flood. mortgage. Property owners outside the 100-year floodplain are free of regulatory requirements, but not the risk. Federally backed flood insurance is available to property owners outside the 100-year floodplain as well.
Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Over the past 10 years the average flood claim in the United States has amounted to over $33,000. Flood insurance is the best way to protect your investment from a devasting financial loss since typical homeowners’ insurance does not cover property loss from a flood. Nearly 25% of all flood insurance claims come from moderate to low risk areas. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, condominiums owner/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property’s flood risk.
You need to consider purchasing floodplain insurance. Your homeowners or renters’ insurance policy DOES NOT cover flooding. To purchase flood insurance, contact your regular homeowner’s insurance agent.
Your family is at risk of flooding, which can happen quickly and without warning. Prepare a family disaster plan for your best protection. The American Red Cross has excellent publications in English and Spanish to help you with this process. Your planning should include the following:
The City of Duncan requires a Floodplain Development Permit along with a building permit for remodeling, improving, expanding, or rebuilding your home, buildings, parking areas, etc. within the floodplain. If your property is in a floodplain, all projects must be compliant with stricter rules for floodplain construction.
On January 1, 2011, FEMA’s NFIP started a new flood insurance rating system called the Flood Map Modernization Program. The purpose of this program is to help reduce the financial burden on homeowners who are placed in high-risk flood areas. The property owner may be entitled to a reduced insurance premium for up to a 2-year period based on SFHA’s remapped on or after October 1, 2008. This would permit the “grandfathering” of a parcel, based on conformance with a prior FIRM, indicating that it was out of the 100-year floodplain before the effective date of the new FIRM.
An elevation Certificate is a federal form that is completed by a licensed land surveyor or registered professional engineer to indicate the lowest adjacent grade (LAG) of the structure in relation to the BFE of the 100-year floodplain. If the structure is above the BFE the property owner may be eligible to change flood zone classification. The information is needed for insurance company reviews to prove that a structure is above a floodplain. The relationship between the BFE and a structure’s lowest adjacent grade determines the flood insurance premium.