Flooding Issues for Property Owners


Flooding is one of the most destructive events that can occur to a building. Flooding ranks in the equivalent to fire and is sometimes combined with a fire or fires. Generally speaking, building codes require that the “final floor elevation” of a building must be at least one foot above the 100-year floodplain. A 100-year flood sometimes referred to as a 1% flood is a flood that can occur once in 100 years. Of course, in the last five years we have seen numerous 100-year floods and in the case of recent hurricanes, we have seen 500-year floods. These 500-year floods result in tens of billions of dollars in property damage and destruction, much of which is not covered by insurance. FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), which is a division of the Department of Homeland Security, is the federal agency that determines the potential areas that could be affected by flooding in various scenarios.

FEMA directs the National Flood Insurance Program to assure that insurance is available to those who own buildings adjacent to or located in flood-prone areas and determines no-build zones in areas designated as 100-year floodplains. From time to time FEMA may change floodplain maps to indicate areas where flooding has been mitigated or through natural or man-made events have become more susceptible to flooding. The farther removed from a flood-prone area a building can be located the better it is for the owner and less expensive it is for flood insurance. In the case of potential coastal flooding, it would be advisable to have flood insurance for any structure located within the 500 year-flood plain. The National Flood Insurance Program is the issuing agency for flood insurance. Your property insurance agent can assist in securing flood insurance. In most cases, flood insurance is a requirement of the mortgage holder on the property if there is a question of the need for it.