Tuesday, May 26, 2015   

Flood Certificate

The following is a general outline and guide to checking flood status of a property and obtaining flood insurance.

Checking Flood Status Of Property

Certain areas of Brunswick County are subject from time-to-time to flooding that might result in losses and disruption of life activities for citizens who live in those flood hazard areas. Such losses might be caused by: 1) the cumulative effect of obstructions in floodplains, which result in increases in flood heights and velocities; 2) by uses or structures constructed in flood hazard areas vulnerable to floods or hazard to other lands that are elevated inadequately, not flood proofed, or otherwise unprotected from flood damages. To minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas, Brunswick County adopted a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance (Sec. 1-4.26 to 1-4.80). The purposes of that ordinance are as follows:

  1. Restrict or prohibit uses that might be dangerous due to water or erosion hazards, and that might result in damaging increases in erosion or in flood heights or velocities.
  2. Require that uses vulnerable to floods be protected against flood damage at the time of initial construction.
  3. Control the alteration of natural floodplains, stream channels, and natural protective barriers that are involved in the accommodation of flood waters.
  4. Control filling, grading dredging, and the development that might increase erosion or flood damage.
  5. Prevent or regulate the construction of flood barriers that might unnaturally divert floodwaters or that might increase flood hazards to other lands.
Special Flood Hazard Areas

Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) were identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a flood insurance study dated 15 May 1986, which included accompanying maps and other supporting data, and any later revision declared by FEMA. (Note: The age of the maps and the methods used to generate the FIRM maps place some limitations upon the accuracy of the maps. Final interpretation must be approved by FEMA, the agency that produced the maps.) Brunswick County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program to reduce effects and costs for citizens. A development permit is required from Brunswick County. Permit procedures, standards, and responsibilities to reduce flood impact have been defined for the following:

  • residential construction
  • non-residential construction
  • elevated buildings
  • floodways
  • coastal high hazard areas
Determining Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) Status

To following describes how to determine FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) status of a parcel:

  1. Floodplain data for a specific parcel can be obtained from a Property Development Technician or Supervisor. Review is on a first-come, first-served basis, and appointments may be scheduled. Telephone requests are discouraged, as data cannot be considered to be reliable! (In the past, citizens have called to ask for a review of their Tax Map and Parcel Number. Later, it was determined that the parcel identification was in error. Your coming to the Planning Department will allow you to point out your property correctly on Tax and FEMA flood maps.)
  2. As part of the application process for any property development permit in the unincorporated areas of Brunswick County and certain towns, flood status of a parcel is verified by Central Permitting. Property Development Technicians interpret the location and status of a parcel relative to FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Flood area status might determine the type and cost of construction that can be made on a parcel. If a citizen has questions about interpretation of any flood status, the following alternatives might provide the needed information:
    • Review of plans by Chief Building Inspector. Building Plan requirements for structures in a flood plain may be discussed with the Chief Building Inspector. (Call 253-2050 to make an appointment.) An Elevation Certificate is required for all structures proposed to be located in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
    • Request for Second Opinion. A request for review or second opinion may be submitted to the Planning Director. (Call 253-2025 to schedule an appointment.)
    • Review by the U.S. Corps Of Engineers. A citizen may contact the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers at P.O. Box 1890, Wilmington, NC 28402-1890, telephone 910-251-4728. For a fee, review of a particular parcel may be made by comparing local flood maps, regional topographic elevation maps, and other methods as deemed appropriate. Such review, however, does not change FEMA maps.
    • Review by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Any error in mapping must be reviewed and corrected by FEMA through a Letter Of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove property officially from a flood plain. To receive a flood mitigation package, a citizen may contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Region IV at 3003 Chamblee-Tucker Road, Atlanta, GA 30341, telephone 770-220-5442.

      A fee must be paid, and approximately 13 official data items must be provided to receive a Letter Of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter Of Map Revision -- Based on Fill (LOMA-BOF). Preparation of some of the data will require certification by a licensed surveyor or a registered professional engineer. Although FEMA may issue a Letter Of Map Amendment to remove a structure from a Flood Hazard Area, it is the lending institutions' prerogative to require flood insurance if it deems such action appropriate.
    • National Flood Insurance Program. In 1968, the United States Congress passed the National Flood Insurance Act, which created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP was designed to reduce future flood losses through local flood-plain management. The program further intended to provide protection for property owners against potential losses through an insurance mechanism that would allow a premium to be paid for the protection by those most in need of it.

      (NOTE: If any structure located on your property is covered by a flood insurance policy, and if your mortgage company or lending institution agrees to waive the flood insurance requirements, the NFIP will refund the premium paid for the current policy year -- providing that no claim is pending or has been paid on the policy during the current policy year. To receive a refund, a written waiver or certificate must be obtained from the lending institution and presented to your insurance agent, who will process the premium refund. Additionally, the NFIP offers a low-cost policy for one-to- four bedroom family homes in areas that are not designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas, but where flood exposure still presents a significant risk.) For more information about the FEMA flood insurance program, visit the FEMA website or contact the agency at the address and/or phone number above noted.