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New FEMA Flood Maps - How to Reduce Flood Insurance Costs

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) finalized new flood maps for Broward County and established August 18, 2014 as the effective date for the maps. Here’s how you may save on flood insurance coverage under the new maps:

- View the new flood maps:

- Contact your flood insurance agent and ask how you can save on flood insurance premiums:

  • If you’ve been removed from the flood zone, ask for a conversion to a lower cost policy.
  • If your base flood elevation is decreasing, ask for a conversion to a lower cost policy.
  • If you’ve been added to the flood zone, ask for a preferred risk policy extension.
  • If your base flood elevation is increasing, ask for grandfathering.

For more information on flood insurance please visit the National Flood Insurance Program website at floodsmart.gov, or contact your flood insurance agent.

Flood Insurance

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: Broward County’s Emergency Management Division, Broward.org/Emergency, or FEMA’s website at FEMA.gov.

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Financial Assistance May Be Available

If your home or business is damaged by a flood, you may be required to meet certain building requirements in your community to reduce future flood damage. To help with these costs, the NFIP includes Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage benefits for all eligible properties insured under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. ICC coverage is an important part of most flood insurance policies which provides:

  • up to $30,000 to help property owners whose home has been declared substantially damaged by a community, that can be used to reduce the risk of damage from future floods by elevating, floodproofing (for nonresidential structures), demolishing or relocating their building or home
  • for the repair of the actual physical damages from flooding; however, the total claim payments cannot exceed statutory limits


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 Environmental Licensing and Building Permitting Division at 954-519-1483 or the South Florida Water Management District 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 Environmental Licensing and Building Permitting 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 Environmental Licensing and Building Permitting Division at 954-765-4400, extension 9808.


Local Flood Hazards 

Floods resulting from prolonged, heavy rainfall can occur in rivers and canals that drain inland areas
into the Atlantic Ocean when waterway capacities are exceeded. Flooding from heavy rainfall occurs in
low-lying areas and areas near rivers and canals.

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. South Florida’s five-month rainy season brings more than two-thirds of the region’s annual rainfall. The rainy season can also bring flooding, which may occur when large amounts of rain fall over a short period of time or from a single heavy storm, tropical system or hurricane.

Since portions of unincorporated Broward County have been designated as a Special Flood Hazard Area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it is advisable to check with the Environmental Licensing and Building Permitting 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 Environmental Licensing and Building Permitting 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.


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