FLOODPLAIN PERMIT REQUIREMENTS
All development within the 100-year floodplain needs to obtain a permit from the municipality. This includes any fences, filling, excavation, construction, etc. The application for the permit must be submitted prior to the start of any project. Please report any illegal activity or development in the floodplain.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires that if the cost of improvements to a building or the cost to repair damages (from any cause, not just flooding) exceeds 50% of the market value of the building (excluding land value), the entire building must be brought up to current floodplain management standards. Building improvement projects include exterior and interior remodeling, rehabilitation, additions and repair and reconstruction projects. Additionally, the cost of currently planned improvements will be added to the cost of previously made improvements and compared the existing market value to determine if the improvements exceed 50% of the structures value.
Several municipalities in the Lower Raritan Watershed participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) so that residents can protect their property and possessions from flood hazards. Homeowner’s policies do not cover damage from floods. Flood insurance is only available to residents of communities that actively participate in the NFIP. If you do not currently have an NFIP policy, your insurance agent can provide information on flood insurance. Municipal enrollment in the Community Rating System (CRS) can provide significant discounts for flood insurance premiums within the Special Flood Hazard Area or 100-year floodplain.
If you currently own a flood insurance policy, check the coverage. Most standard policies cover the building structure, but not the contents. Contents insurance can be obtained by checking with your insurance agent. There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance coverage takes effect. It is best to plan ahead; do not wait until a flood is imminent before purchasing flood insurance. All buildings within the floodplain that have a loan or mortgage from a federally regulated/insured bank are legally required to require a flood insurance policy for the structure. Flood Insurance rates will be going up in the next few years as Congress has authorized FEMA to increase annual rates by 20%; other increases will be due to reductions in subsidies for certain properties. Be sure to maintain your flood insurance coverage to lessen your increase! Lapsed policies now getting discounts will increase to actuarial rates.
NATURAL & BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS
Floodplains that are relatively undisturbed provide a wide range of benefits to both human and natural systems in the watershed. In addition to the natural aesthetic afforded by natural open space, floodplains provide water storage, filtration of nutrients, water quality improvements and critical habitat for waterfowl, fish, and other animals. Undisturbed floodplains also naturally provide erosion control and cumulatively reduce damage from future flooding hazards.
DRAINAGE SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
Often people think that streams and creeks flush debris downstream naturally, so it is logical to dump leaves or other debris into the watercourse. Streams and ditches that become cluttered with debris are more vulnerable to increased flooding. It is important that individuals refrain from dumping leaves, yard waste, or other debris into these watercourses, including the canal.
If you see debris in any of the watercourses please contact your municipality’s Department of Public Works to report the location.
FUNDING FOR REPETITIVE LOSS PROPERTIES
Protecting severely flood-prone properties from future losses reduces the overall cost to the NFIP, the expense for the homeowners, and the economic impact to the community. In recognition of this important need for mitigation, Congress has created a variety of funding sources to help repetitive loss property owners reduce their exposure to flood damage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) now has five grant programs and one insurance benefit. More information on these programs can be found on the noted websites.
Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) − a grant made available after a Presidential disaster declaration
Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) − a grant that your community can apply for each year
Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) − a nationally competitive grant that your community can apply for each year
Repetitive Flood Claims (RFC) − a grant that FEMA administers for certain repetitive loss properties when there is no local government sponsor
Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) − a grant that is reserved for “Severe” repetitive loss properties, i.e.,those whose flood insurance policies are administered by FEMA’s Special Direct Facility rather than a private insurance company
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 (http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=3010) You should ask for this coverage in your insurance policy.
Most of the FEMA grants provide 75% of the cost of an eligible project. The owner is expected to fund the other 25%, although in some cases, the state or local government may contribute to the non-FEMA share. ICC pays 100% (up to $30,000) of the cost of bringing the damaged building up to the local ordinance’s flood protection standards.