Replacing household contents damaged by floods could place a financial burden on a homeowner without flood insurance. Homeowner’s insurance policies do not generally cover damage from floods. However, because Broward County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy from an insurance agent. This insurance is backed by the federal government and is available to everyone, even for properties that have been flooded previously. Please note that unless there is a special condition of the mortgage, there normally is a 30-day waiting period between the time flood insurance is purchased and the time coverage is in force.
More information can be obtained at the Broward County Main Library visit the following sites: Emergency Management Division, www.broward.org/Emergency, or FEMA’s web site at www.FEMA.gov.
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Over the years, Congress has created a variety of funding sources to help repetitive loss property owners reduce their exposure to flood damage. Most of the FEMA grants provide 75 percent of the cost of a project. The owner is expected to fund the other 25 percent. Increase Cost of Compliance (ICC) pays 100 percent (up to $30,000) of the cost of bringing a damaged building up to the local ordinance’s flood protection standards. More information on these programs can be found on the noted Web sites.
- Repetitive Flood Claims (RFC) - a grant that FEMA administers for certain repetitive loss properties where there is no local government sponsor. Visit www.fema.gov/government then click GRANT INFORMATION, SEARCH FOR GRANTS AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS and select REPETITIVE FLOOD CLAIMS PROGRAM
- Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) - a grant that is reserved for “Severe” repetitive loss properties, i.e., those with their flood insurance policies administered by FEMA’s Special Direct Facility rather than a private insurance company. Visit www.fema.gov/government then click GRANT INFORMATION, SEARCH FOR GRANTS AND ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS and select SEVERE REPETITIVE LOSS PROGRAM
- Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) - an extra flood insurance claim payment that can be provided if an insured building was flooded and then declared substantially damaged by the local permit office. Visit www.fema.gov/library then click SEARCH BY RESOURCE BY TITLE. In the search criteria box, type INCREASED COST OF COMPLIANCE COVERAGE: HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT then click “Search.” Finally, select HOW YOU CAN BENEFIT FROM ICC COVERAGE
Water Quality and Flood Control Effects of Drainage Systems
The success of the drainage system in your neighborhood depends on proper maintenance of the system. The swales that are commonly located between your yard and your street are part of the storm water management system for your neighborhood.
Gutters, storm drain pipes, lakes, wetlands, swales and canals should be kept free of debris. It is against County Code to dump trash in waters of the County. The drainage system may provide both water quality and flood control benefits. Lakes, wetlands, swales and canals filter pollutants from runoff or allow pollutants to settle out. Check with the Development and Environmental Regulation Division at 954-519-1483 or the SFWMD at 561-686-8800 before paving, regrading or altering swales.
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Property Protection Measures
Losses due to floods can be reduced by implementing property protection measures. Furniture, appliances, clothing, and other movable items can be elevated within the structure or relocated away from potential flooding if time permits. You should also make an itemized inventory of your belongings including costs, dates of purchase and serial numbers.
There are several ways to protect a building from flood damage if feasible. One way is to make sure your lot is graded in a manner that will direct runoff away from your building. Another approach is to make your walls waterproof and place watertight closures over the doorways. This method is not recommended if water will rise to a depth of two feet or greater. A third approach is to raise the house above flood levels. Prior to making these modifications, consult with a certified contractor.
Improvement and Flood Plain Development Requirements
Strict regulations govern substantial improvements to structures in the flood plain. According to NFIP, ”substantial improvement” means the cost of any repair, reconstruction, or improvement of a structure which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure either before the improvement is started or if the structure has been damaged and is being restored.
Please be advised that any new development or improvement on a property will be subject to current County regulations and may also be subject to state and federal regulations. Please contact the Development and Environmental Regulation Division or the Broward County Permitting, Licensing and Consumer Protection Division at 954-765-4400 for specific information and to report unpermitted construction activities.
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Flood Zone and Certificate Information
If you would like to know if your unincorporated area property is in a special flood hazard area (and, if so the specific zone) call 954-519-1483 and provide your address and zip code.
Elevation certificates for buildings constructed since October 1992 are on file and may be obtained by contacting the Permitting, Licensing and Consumer Protection Division at 954-765-4400.
Local Flood Hazards
Floods resulting from prolonged, heavy rainfall can occur in canals that drain inland areas into the Atlantic Ocean when canal capacities are exceeded. Flooding from heavy rainfall occurs in low-lying areas and canals which include the North New River Canal, Cypress Creek Canal, North Fork Canal, Middle River Canal, South New River Canal, and the Pompano Canal.
The severe flooding that occurred as a result of the exceedingly wet summers and the hurricanes of 1947 was the basis for creating what is now the South Florida Water Management District. Some of the more recent storms causing significant area-wide flooding in Broward County include the early June 1999 storm, Hurricane Irene in October 1999, the subtropical depression in early October 2000, and heavy rainfalls of May 2003, February 2004 and December 2009.
Since the majority of unincorporated Broward County has been designated as a Special Flood Hazard Area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it is advisable to check with the Development and Environmental Regulation Division so that a flood zone determination of your property can be made.
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Flood Protection and Retrofitting Technique Assistance
Site-specific flood and historical flood-related data and similar information are available from the Development and Environmental Regulation Division. You may contact our office to schedule a site visit to review flooding, drainage, and storm sewer problems, and to obtain advice as necessary. Information is also available on retrofitting techniques that property owners may pursue to provide additional protection. Call 954-519-1483 for more information.
Flood Safety: When Flood Conditions are Present
Do not walk through flowing water.
If you must walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure the depth of water ahead of you.
Do not drive through a flooded area.
Do not drive around road barriers; the road may be washed out.
Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.
Electrical current travels through water. If possible, report downed power lines to FPL. Do not use appliances or motors that are wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
Look out for animals, especially snakes.
Small animals that have been flooded out of their habitat may take shelter in your home.
Look before you step.
After a flood, the ground and floors can be covered with debris. Surfaces that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
Be alert for gas leaks.
If your house is serviced by gas, do not smoke, or use candles or open flames unless you know that the gas has not built up. Make arrangements to turn off your electricity and gas.
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Functions of the Local Flood Plains
Although much of the natural flood plain system in South Florida has been altered and is frequently over-drained, efforts are being made to enhance many historical wetlands and canals to restore them to a more natural state. These flood plain and wetland areas buffer flood flows, remove pollutants from our surface waters, recharge groundwater and create diverse habitat systems for plants and animals. The Broward County Comprehensive Plan includes policies pertaining to flood plains, beaches and wetlands. The plan provides for protection and creation of surface waters, protection and/or restoration of beaches and wetlands preservation.
New Flood Maps Are On The Way
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is n the process of updating the flood maps used in Broward County. Neighborhoods across Broward County will be affected differently by these map changes. There will be some properties that aren’t affected and their risk remains he same. Other properties may be mapped into a higher-risk area and/or show a new Base Flood Elevation.
The updated flood maps will become effective after a series of public meetings and an appeal and adoption process. The updated FEMA flood maps may be adopted as soon as July 30, 2012 and will then be used for:
- determining flood insurance purchase requirements
- determining flood insurance rates
- establishing minimum finished floor elevations for new construction and substantial improvements to existing structures
Property owners are urged to check their status under the new maps once preliminary maps become available (tentatively September 2011). Visit www.broward.org/Regulation and click on “New Flood Zone Maps” for more information.
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