1. Programs for flood protection
a. NFIP: The NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) is a Federal program, which enables property owners in the communities that participate in this program such as the City of Port Orange, to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding. This insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods.
By this program there is an agreement between the City of Port Orange and the Federal Government that states if the City of Port Orange will adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risk to new construction in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), the Federal Government will make flood insurance available within the City of Port Orange as a financial protection against flood losses.
This program makes the federally backed flood insurance available for all buildings, irrespective of whether they are in a flood plain or not, considering the fact that direct losses by surface flooding could occur through a river flowing over its banks, or that caused by a lake or ocean storm or local drainage problems.
b. CRS: The CRS (Community Rating System) is a program of NFIP, which recognizes and encourages community efforts beyond the NFIP minimum standards by reducing flood insurance premiums for the community's property owners. Because of the current activities provided by the City of Port Orange with respect to flood mitigation, planning, and preparedness to protect against flooding, the CRS now recognizes the City of Port Orange as a 'Class 7' community. Now with the 'Class 7' designation, all residents within the City of Port Orange that currently carry FEMA flood insurance qualify to receive 15% discount on their annual FEMA flood insurance policy premium.
2. Mandatory Flood Insurance
a. For all buildings in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) there is a mandatory purchase requirement in order for them to receive all forms of federal or federally related financial assistance. This assistance can be in the form of loans and grants for the purchase, construction, repair, or improvement of any publicly or privately owned building in the SFHA, including machinery, equipment, fixtures, and furnishings contained in such buildings.
Financial assistance programs affected include loans and grants from agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Farmers Home Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Small Business Administration, and Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Mandatory Flood Insurance requirement also applies to secured mortgage loans from financial institutions, such as commercial lenders, savings and loan associations, savings banks, and credit unions that are regulated, supervised or insured by Federal agencies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of Thrift Supervision. It also applies to all mortgage loans purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in the secondary mortgage market.
b. How this Mandatory Insurance Purchase requirement works:
One of the affected agencies or lenders who agrees to provide a loan or other financial assistance to an individual performs a check to see if the building is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). SFHA is a FEMA identified high-risk area defined as any land that would be inundated by a flood that has a 1-percent chance or greater of occurring in any given year. This area is identified on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). In the current maps it is shown as one or more zones that begin with the letter "A" or "V".
The City of Port Orange provides assistance to these agencies or lenders and everyone who wishes to determine this information from the FIRM. It is the responsibility of the agency or lender to check the FIRM to determine if the building is in an SFHA.
If the building is in a SFHA, it is a requirement by law for the agency or lender to require the recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building. The requirement is for structural coverage equal to the amount of the loan (or other financial assistance) or the maximum amount available, whichever is less. The maximum amount available for a single-family house is $250,000.
The following are not affected by this mandatory purchase requirement: Loans for buildings that are not in the SFHA, even though a portion of the lot may be in the flood prone (While not mandated by law, a lender may require a flood insurance policy as a condition of a loan for a property in any zone on a Flood Insurance Rate Map), loans or financial assistance for items that are not covered by a flood insurance policy, such as vehicles, business expenses, landscaping, and vacant lots.
c. 30-Day Waiting Period:
The 1994 Reform Act requires a 30-day waiting period to effect coverage under a new contract for flood insurance and any modification to coverage under an existing flood insurance contract. The express intent of Congress in mandating a 30-day waiting period was to prevent the purchase of flood insurance at times of imminent flood loss. Exceptions to this standard 30-day wait are as follows:
1. The 30-day waiting period will not apply when there is an existing insurance policy and an additional amount of flood insurance is required in connection with the making, increasing, extension, or renewal of a loan, such as a second mortgage, home equity loan, or refinancing. The increased amount of flood coverage will be effective as of the time of the loan closing, provided the increased amount of coverage is applied for and the presentment of additional premium is made at or prior to the loan closing.
2. The 30-day waiting period will not apply when an additional amount of insurance is required as a result of a map revision. The increased amount of coverage will be effective at 12:01 a.m. on the first calendar day after the date the increased amount of coverage is applied for and the presentment of additional premium is made.
3. The 30-day waiting period will not apply when flood insurance is required as a result of a lender determining that a loan which does not have flood insurance coverage should be protected by flood insurance. The coverage will be effective upon the completion of an application and the presentment of payment of premium.
4. The 30-day waiting period will not apply when an additional amount of insurance is being obtained in connection with the renewal of a policy. The increased amount of coverage will be effective at 12:01 a.m. on the date of policy renewal, provided the premium for the increased coverage is received before the expiration of the grace period.
3. Beneficial Functions of Flood Plains
The two major floodplains within the City are along the Halifax River and within the area of the Nova/Halifax Canal.
Water Quality improvement, natural habitats protection, flood losses reduction and erosion control are among the several beneficial functions of flood plains. The natural vegetation that grows in the flood plains filters out the impurities that the stormwater carries on its way to the flood plains, and finally discharges clean water to the rivers.
The wetlands in flood plains act as natural sponges that trap and slowly release the stormwater that gets there. Trees, root mats and other wetland vegetation also slow the speed of the stormwater and distribute it slowly over the flood plain. This combined function of water storage and braking action reduces flood heights and provides erosion control in the flood plain. This slowing down action allows sediments to settle in the flood plains, thereby improving the water quality discharged into the rivers and improving the fertility of the soil in the flood plains, enabling the benefits of agriculture and other diverse vegetation, ultimately protecting the environment. Considering all the benefits, these functions of nature would help us in saving the costs to correct the problems due to flooding and water quality.
4. Floodplain Development Permit Requirements
Application for a development permit in a special flood hazard area shall include, but not be limited to, the following plans, drawn to scale, showing the nature, location, dimensions, and elevations of the area in question, existing or proposed structures, fill, storage of materials, drainage facilities, and the location of the foregoing. Specifically, the following information is required:
i. Application stage.
1. Elevation in relation to mean sea level of the proposed lowest floor (including basement) of all structures;
2. Elevation in relation to mean sea level to which any nonresidential structure in A-Zones will be floodproofed;
3. Certificate from a registered professional engineer or architect that any nonresidential floodproofed structure will meet the floodproofing criteria in paragraph 20(a)(2) and subsection 23(b) of the chapter 8 of the Port Orange Land Development Code; and
4. Description of the extent to which any watercourse will be altered or relocated as a result of proposed development.
ii. Construction stage.
A regulatory floor elevation or floodproofing certification after the lowest floor is completed needs to be provided. Upon placement of the lowest floor, or in instances where the structure is subject to regulations applicable to coastal high hazard areas, after placement of the horizontal structural members of the lowest floor, or for nonresidential structures, floodproofing, whichever is applicable, it shall be the duty of the permit holder to submit to the administrative official a certification of the elevation of the lowest floor, floodproofed elevation, or the elevation of the lowest portion of the horizontal structural members of the lowest floor, whichever is applicable, as built, in relation to mean sea level. Said certification shall be prepared by or under the direct supervision of a registered land surveyor and mapper or professional engineer and certified by same. When floodproofing is utilized for a particular building, said certification shall be prepared by or under the direct supervision of a professional engineer or architect and certified by same. Any work undertaken prior to submission of the certification shall be at the permit holder's risk. The administrative official shall review the referenced floor elevation survey data submitted. Deficiencies detected by such review shall be corrected by the permit holder immediately and prior to further progressive work being permitted to proceed. Failure to submit the survey or failure to make said corrections required hereby shall be cause to issue a stop work order for the project.
5. Property Protection Measures
There are various actions, which can be taken to flood proof structures. Electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, washers, and dryers should be elevated or relocated to a location less likely to be flooded. Basement flood drains and interior and exterior backwater valves can be installed, and interior floodwalls can be placed around utilities. If flooding is likely, and time permits, move essential items and furniture to the upper floors of your home. Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing. More information on flood proofing techniques is available in the Port Orange Library at the reference desk and through the card catalogue.
6. Flood safety Measures
You can protect yourself from flood hazards by taking measures to ensure the safety of life and property before, during and after a flood occurs.
a. Do not walk through flowing water.
Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to see how deep the water is.
b. Do not drive through a flooded area.
More people drown in their vehicles than anywhere else. Don't drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out. The more you press the gas paddle, while driving in a flooded area, the more is the water that you would be letting inside the engine.
c. Stay away from electrical wires.
The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electric current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the Power Company of County emergency management office.
7. Substantial Improvement/Damage Requirements
In accordance with the NFIP standards, the City of Port Orange Building Code requires that if the cost of any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvements to a building equals or exceeds 50 % of the building's market value, such work is considered a substantial improvement. The existing building is then required to meet the same standards as a new building. For residential structures, these requirements typically mean raising the living area of the building to the base flood elevation.
8. Drainage System Maintenance
The City of Port Orange has a storm drainage system, which carries stormwater away from homes. Maintenance of these systems is very important. Debris in ditches and streams obstruct the flow of water, which can cause overflow onto roads and into yards.
Maintenance is performed on the system at least twice a year and as emergencies arise enabling the system to achieve a high flow capacity. An ordinance is also in effect that prohibits dumping in any canal, waterway or ditch in the City. Dumping of refuse, effluent or decaying matter may be a deterrent to maximum flow capacity can cause flooding and property damage. If you know of any dumping in the City's drainage system report it to the Port Orange Public Works Department at 386-506-5575.
9. Frequently Asked Questions
a. My Insurance company says that I am in a Flood Zone, but I come to know from other sources that I am not in a Flood Zone, where to find the correct information?
Ans) The City of Port Orange is authorized to provide the Flood Zone Information for any property within the City. Residents with questions regarding the flood zone of their property should call the Port Orange Engineering Division of the Department of Community Development for a Flood Zone determination at (386) 506-5665. In some cases a survey of the property may need to be provided for exact determination. The processing of Flood Zone determination requests is a service offered to residents of the City of Port Orange free of charge as part of the City's participation with FEMA in the NFIP.
b. What does it mean when you say my property is in a particular Flood Zone?
Ans) This information is based on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which are developed after conducting a detailed Hydrologic Engineering analysis called the Flood Insurance Study. In this analysis the chances of occurrence of a flood are also determined statistically. For example, when we say that a property is in a 100-year Flood Zone, this means that statistically the chance of occurrence of Flood on this property is, in one year is 1% or greater and is never less than 1%.
c. When the chance of occurrence of Flood in one year is 1%, it is OK right? It is only a meager chance isn't it?
Ans) Well, this chance of flood occurrence is designated as the Special Flood Hazard Area by FEMA in the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which is the highest hazard designation. This can cause confusion for people not familiar with statistics. Another way of looking at the same type of flood, by statistics, is that the chance of occurrence of the same flood some time during the life of a 30-year mortgage is 26%.
d. What does it mean when you say that the Base Flood Elevation for my property is of this particular value?
Ans) Base Flood Elevation is the elevation of the crest of a 100-year flood. This elevation is there for your property only if your property is affected by a 100-year flood or worse flood. For example, if it is said that the Base Flood Elevation for your property is 7 feet. This means that 100-year flood or worse flood occurs on your property, and the crest height of the 100-year floodwaters on your property is 7 feet.
The concept of Base Flood is to ensure that all properties are protected to the same degree against flooding.
e. I want to apply for my Flood Insurance, now my insurance company is asking for an Elevation Certificate. Where can I get this?
Ans) City of Port Orange requires that all development permit applications for that in a Special Flood Hazard Area must be submitted with an Elevation Certificate. All the Elevation Certificates thus submitted are organized in the City's database. Anyone who is in need of an Elevation Certificate should call the Port Orange Engineering Division of Community Development at (386) 506-5607.