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Betti Johnson, AICP
4000 Gateway Centre Blvd.
Pinellas Park, Florida 33782
Phone: (727)570-5151 ext. 29
The National Flood Insurance Program
Every year millions of tax dollars are spent on disaster relief and flooding is our country's number one natural hazard. Realizing that tax dollars could be saved and disasters avoided through adequate planning, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was established in 1968.The NFIP makes flood insurance available to residents in communities which adopt appropriate standards and land use controls.
All communities in the Tampa Bay Region which have flood prone areas identified have adopted a Flood Plain Management Ordinance which regulates development within the 100-year flood plain. The 100-year flood plain is defined as those areas which have a 1% or greater chance of flooding in any given year. The flood plain is delineated on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) which show the flood area including the coastal and inland 100-year flood area and the Velocity Zone or V-Zone where wave action must be considered. The height of the 100-year flood may also be located on the maps. FIRMs are available through your local government, libraries and many real estate and insurance offices. It is recommended to check these maps before you purchase or rent property to determine your level of risk. Flood insurance is not only a good idea but will be required on property within the flood plain if you receive any kind of mortgage loan.
The Flood Plain Management Ordinance requires new construction, reconstruction or a significant improvement (greater than 50% of the market value of the structure) to elevate the first floor to or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) to reduce the risk of flood damage. Some communities require a one or two foot "free board" — an added elevation above the Base Flood Elevation for additional safety. (This additional elevation can result in significant savings on your flood insurance premium.)
After a disaster, compliance with the 50% Rule requirement can become a major challenge. The 50% Rule requires structures damaged more than 50% of its market value, to be rebuilt to current standards including elevating the structure at or above the base flood elevation. Your NFIP flood insurance policy will provide funds to cover some of these additional costs (up to a certain amount). However, homeowners' policies do not. Residents in the flood plain should purchase a supplemental insurance Arider@ in case the home is damaged by hazards other than flood, such as wind or fire.
Repetitive Loss Structures
The State of Florida has more repetitive loss structures — homes or businesses which have sustained flood losses more than 4 times in the last 10 years — than any other state in the union. There are over 600 repetitive loss structures in the Tampa Bay region. For homeowners with repetitive loss property, there are some programs to assist in elevating the structure or purchasing the property. These are limited grants, highly competitive and take time, but they could provide financial assistance. Those homeowners who have participated enjoy the freedom of not having to worry about flooding and losing precious belongings every time it rains.
If you have questions about the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program (FMAP), contact your municipal government. If you live in an unincorporated area, call the County Planning or Building Department.
The Community Rating System
Many communities in the Tampa Bay region also participate in the Community Rating System (CRS) which enhances the flood plain management program through measures such as public education and stormwater projects. The CRS program monitors local governments building inspection programs and flood mitigation programs and rewards those communities who go the extra mile. Participation in the CRS provides residents with 10-20% reduction in flood insurance premiums!
If you have questions about the program, contact your municipal government. If you live in an unincorporated area, call the County Planning or Building Department.
For more information:
FLOODING MYTHS AND FACTS
MYTH: Flooding occurs only at low elevations along the coast.
FACT: Flooding is a result of elevation, drainage, soil type and surrounding development. It occurs along the coast and rivers as well as inland. More than 30% of the land in the State of Florida is in the flood plain.
MYTH: My homeowner's policy will cover damage if we are flooded.
FACT: Flood damage is only covered under a separate flood insurance policy.