What is Floodplain Management?
Floodplain management is the operation of a community program of preventive and corrective measures to reduce the risk of current and future flooding, resulting in a more resilient community. These measures take a variety of forms, are carried out by multiple stakeholders with a vested interest in responsible floodplain management and generally include requirements for zoning, subdivision or building, building codes and special-purpose floodplain ordinances.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) has minimum floodplain management standards for communities who participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program. Participation by the community is required if the community wishes to have a federally backed flood insurance policy. The floodplain management standards provide safeguards for the public health, safety, and welfare and help to minimize public and private losses due to flooding through regulation of development in flood hazard areas.
Floodplains & Property Ownership
Anywhere it rains, it can flood. The fact that you haven’t experienced a flood in the past doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn't based only on history; it's also based on factors such as rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures and changes due to building and development. Knowing your risk and taking action to reduce it will help you recover more quickly after a flooding event. To reduce your flood risk, you need to know your level of risk. View the City of Mary Esther floodplain map (PDF). Flood hazard maps show different degrees of risk for your community and help determine the cost of flood insurance. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium. View a flood map of your specific property.
What Are the Different Types of Flood Zones?
Flood zones are most commonly defined as X zones, A zones and V zones.
Moderate to Low Risk
- B and X Zone (shaded): Area of moderate flood hazard, usually the area between the limits of the 100‐year and 500‐year floods. B Zones are also used to designate base floodplains of lesser hazards, such as areas protected by levees from 100‐year flood, or shallow flooding areas with average depths of less than one foot or drainage areas less than 1 square mile.
- C and X Zone (unshaded): Area of minimal flood hazard, usually depicted on FIRMs as above the 500‐year flood level. Zone C may have ponding and local drainage problems that don't warrant a detailed study or designation as base floodplain. Zone X is the area determined to be outside the 500‐year flood and protected by levee from 100‐year flood.
- A Zone: Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30‐year mortgage. The lowest floor of a building shall be located no lower than one foot above the base flood elevation.
- V Zone: Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30‐year mortgage. The lowest floor of a building shall be located no lower than one foot above the base flood elevation.
Protect Yourself with Flood Insurance
Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. From 2010 to 2014 the average residential flood claim amounted to more than $39,000. In 2014, the average flood insurance policy premium was about $700 per year. Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from devastating financial loss. For information about purchasing a flood insurance policy for residential or commercial property, even if you are a renter, visit the Floodsmart webpage for valuable information. Remember, there is a 30 day waiting period for new policies.
Other Sources & Information
Floodplain maps and other information such as available elevation certificates, building regulations for areas located within a floodplain, stream dumping regulations, and flood proofing your current home or a proposed new home can be obtained by visiting the Planning and Zoning Department.
Ways to Protect Yourself
- Check with the Building Department on the extent of past flooding in your area. Department staff can tell you about the causes of repetitive flooding, what the City is doing about it, and what would be an appropriate flood protection level. The staff can visit your property to discuss flood protection alternatives.
- Prepare for flooding by doing the following:
- Know how to shut off the electricity and gas to your house when a flood comes.
- Make a list of emergency numbers and identify a safe place to go.
- Make a household inventory, especially of basement contents.
- Put insurance policies, valuable papers, medicine, etc., in a safe place.
- Collect and put cleaning supplies, camera, waterproof boots, etc., in a handy place.
- Develop a disaster response plan. See the Red Cross’s website for information about preparing your home and family for a disaster.
- Get a copy of Repairing Your Flooded Home which can be found on the Red Cross Website.
- Consider some permanent flood protection measures.
- Mark your fuse or breaker box to show the circuits to the floodable areas. Turning off the power to the basement before a flood can reduce property damage and save lives.
- Consider elevating your house above flood levels.
- Check your building for water entry points, such as basement windows, the basement stairwell, doors, and dryer vents. These can be protected with low walls or temporary shields.
- Install a floor drain plug, standpipe, overhead sewer, or sewer backup valve to prevent sewer backup flooding.
- More information can be found on the FEMA website.
- Note that some flood protection measures may need a building permit and others may not be safe for your type of building, so be sure to talk to the Building Department.
- Talk to the Building Department for information on financial assistance. Grants maybe available for mitigation purposes through the Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant Program.
- Get a flood insurance policy.
- Homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. However, because our community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy. This insurance is backed by the Federal government and is available to everyone, even properties that have been flooded. Because our community participates in the Community Rating System, you will receive a reduction in the insurance premium.
- If your area is not mapped as a Special Flood Hazard Area, you may qualify for a lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy.
- Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank when they got a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies just cover the building’s structure and not the contents. During the kind of flooding that happens in your area, there is usually more damage to the furniture and contents than there is to the structure. Be sure you have contents coverage.
- Don’t wait for the next flood to buy insurance protection. In most cases, there is a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance Program coverage takes effect.
- Check your address to see which flood zone you are located in.
- Contact your homeowner’s insurance agent for more information.
Links & Resources
- Are You Flood Smart? (PDF)
- Floodplain Map (PDF)
- Flood Zone Designations (PDF)
- Floodsmart Website
- National Flood Insurance Program Website