Floodplain Management: Sound Techniques to Improve Your Recovery


future flooding through measures such as elevating structures. In this issue ofDisaster Recovery Today, we will discuss floodplain management and also its impact on FEMA Public Assistance (PA) recoveries.

Floodplain Management
When a community agrees to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), officials sign a flood damage prevention ordinance. In this ordinance, a community agrees to regulate development in the SFHA in exchange for the availability of federal flood insurance, disaster assistance and federally backed community loans.

Primarily, regulating development means to ensure that all new construction or substantial improvement (we will discuss substantial improvement in greater detail later in this issue) has its lowest floor, including basement, above the base flood elevation (BFE). Obviously, since it is impossible to elevate a basement, this would mean no basements in a SFHA. If a BFE has not been determined on your Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), then a community should require buildings to have their lowest floor two feet above the highest adjacent grade.




To achieve and maintain compliance, communities assign a floodplain administrator who oversees the floodplain development permitting process. Permits are required when performing any of the following activities within a SFHA:

  • Building or enlarging a structure
  • Substantially improving a structure
  • Placing a manufactured home
  • Mining, dredging, filling, grading, excavating and landscaping
  • Building or repairing roads and bridges

After review, the permit is either denied or approved and is attached to the building permit. To make this

determination, the administrator will require an elevation certificate, which documents the BFE in comparison to the structure’s lowest floor. Elevation certificates must be prepared and certified by a land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is authorized by commonwealth, state, or local law to certify elevation information. Community officials who are authorized by local law or ordinance to provide floodplain management information may also sign the certificate.

When developing floodplain management ordinances and procedures, it is important to remember that the regulatory requirements set forth by FEMA are the minimum measures acceptable for NFIP participation. More stringent requirements adopted