The National Flood Insurance Program

Although FEMA does have a excellent recovery program, we also have, what we call, mitigation. And mitigation is to prevent future loss of life and property and part of that mitigation division is the National Flood Insurance Program. The program consists of three components. There’s flood plain mapping. FEMA creates the, what we call, the flood insurance rate maps. They’re mapped for every community in the country, and the delineate the risk areas. The second component is flood insurance. In other words, flood insurance is a federally subsidized insurance program that protects homes and businesses from flooding. And that leads me to the third and final component: flood plain management. FEMA makes an arrangement with local communities that, if they adopt and enforce our minimum standards, we will provide flood insurance to residents within those communities. And one of our minimum standards is that the lowest floor of any structure has to be built at or above the base flood elevation. Usually, the higher above that base flood elevation the lowest floor of your house is, the less your flood insurance premiums will be. Well, along those coastal v-zones areas, where you expect a high velocity wave action, the lowest horizontal structural member of that structure has to be at or above the base flood elevation. This is to allow the waves to roll under that structure and to create less damage to that structure. In your a-zones, we also have minimum building standards and one technique that we like to use is to put in openings. Some of us refer to them as flood vents. In other words, if you put in openings around your foundation walls, which allows the water to flow in and flow out and reduce the hydrostatic and hydrodynamic pressures of that water, hopefully, in a flooding event, your structure will have less damage because you will have maintained the integrity of your foundation. We also require that, and the community enforces these, that all your utilities, your furnace, your hot water heater, be elevated to or above that base flood elevation to once again, prevent damage. And it has been shown that if your house is built properly, in accordance with our minimum standards, those structures that are built properly are less damaged by a flooding event than those that are not.

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