Emergency Management

National Flood Insurance Program

Check out this quarter's Floodplain Management Newsletter

The SD Office of Emergency Management (OEM) administers the National Flood Insurance Program for South Dakota under cooperative agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Training, technical assistance and orientation are provided under the terms of theNational Flood Insurance Program agreement to ensure program knowledge and understanding by community officials, local administrators, and residents of the community.

FEMA has created an interactive map where citizens can enter their address and find Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), Letters of Map Amendment (LOMA), and Letters of Map Revision (LEMRs) if digitally available. Citizens can also see where the nearest flood hazard zone is located. The interactive map can be found here (http://fema.maps.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=cbe088e7c8704464aa0fc34eb99e7f30).

Why is the floodplain regulated?

  • To protect people and property. Floodplain management is about building smart. If we know part of our land will flood from time to time, we should make reasonable decisions to help protect our families, homes, and businesses.
  • To ensure that Federal flood insurance and disaster assistance are available. If your home or business is in the floodplain, and Federal insurance isn't available, then you can't get some types of Federal financial assistance. Home mortgages will be hard to find and you won't be able to get some types of state and Federal loans and grants.
  • To save tax dollars. Every flood disaster affects your community's budget. If we build smarter, we'll have few problems the next time the water rises.
  • To reduce future flood losses. Development that complies with the minimum floodplain management requirements is significantly protected against major flood-related damage.

Floods have been, and continue to be, a destructive natural hazard in terms of economic loss to the citizens of South Dakota. Since 1978, flood insurance policy holders have received over $13.8 million in claim payments.

What are a community's responsibilities to participate in NFIP?

  • Adopt and enforce a flood damage prevention ordinance.
  • Require permits for all types of development in the floodplain.
  • Assure that building sites are reasonably safe from flooding.
  • Estimate flood elevations where not determined by FEMA.
  • Require new or substantially improved homes and manufactures homes to be elevated above the Base Flood Elevation.
  • Require non-residential buildings to be elevated or floodproofed.
  • Determine if damaged buildings are substantially damaged.
  • Conduct field inspections and cite violations.
  • Require Elevation Certificates to document compliance.
  • Carefully consider requests for variances.
  • Resolve non-compliance and violations.
  • Advise FEMA when updates to flood maps are needed.

Enrollment in the National Flood Insurance Program is initiated by a voluntary agreement between the local jurisdiction and the federal government. It is agreed that if a community implements and enforces measures to reduce the risk from flooding in special flood hazard areas, the federal government will make flood insurance available within the community to mitigate future flood losses.

Who needs flood insurance?

Every homeowner, business owner, and renter in South Dakota communities that participate in the NFIP program may purchase a flood insurance policy - regardless of the location of the building. Federal disaster grants do not cover most losses and repayment of a disaster loan can cost many times more than the price of a flood insurance policy.

Unfortunately, it's often after a flood that many people discover that their homeowner or business property insurance policies do not cover flood damages. Approximately 25% of all flood damages occur in low risk zones, commonly described as being "outside the mapped flood zone.

The South Dakota Office of Emergency Management urges citizens to protect their future by getting a flood insurance policy. More information can be found at http://www.floodsmart.gov. To purchase a policy, call your insurance agent.

View some common myths about the NFIP.

What South Dakota Communities participate in NFIP?

There are nearly 200 communities participating in the NFIP in South Dakota. Visit http://www.fema.gov/cis/SD.html for a list of communities.

How would a community know that they can participate in the NFIP?

Community participation in the NFIP is divided into two phases, the Emergency Phase and the Regular Phase. FEMA, which administers the regulatory aspects of the NFIP, notifies a community that it has Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) by issuing a Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM). The FHBM shows the approximate boundaries of the 100-year floodplain in that community. This map does not contain 100-year flood elevations or floodway/floodfringe delineations.

What are the steps a community needs to take to participate in the NFIP?

To participate in the NFIP a community must submit an application to FEMA which includes a resolution of intent passed by the city council or county board stating that the community will act in good faith to regulate future floodplain development and an adopted floodplain management ordinance which meets minimum federal standards.

Community eligibility is generally established separately by municipal or county governments for incorporated and unincorporated areas.

Upon application approval by FEMA, the community enters the Emergency (or initial) Phase of the NFIP. This allows anyone in the community to be eligible to purchase flood insurance at a minimal level of coverage.

The next step is to convert the community to the Regular (or second) Phase of the NFIP. By converting a community to the Regular Phase, higher levels of flood insurance coverage becomes available.

Steps for Emergency Phase

  1. Community applies for participation in the NFIP either (a) as a result of interest in eligibility for flood insurance, or (b) as a result of receiving notification from FEMA that it contains one or more SFHAs. Application includes adopted resolutions or ordinances to minimally regulate new construction in SFHAs.
  2. FEMA authorizes the sale of flood insurance in the community up to the Emergency Program limits. FEMA assesses the community's degree of flood risk and development potential, and if appropriate...
  3. arranges for a study of the community to determine base flood elevations and flood risk zones. Consultation with the community occurs at the start of and during the study. Communities with minimal or no flood risk are converted to the Regular Program without a study (below).
  4. FEMA provides the studied community with Flood Insurance Rate Map delineating base flood elevations and flood risk zones. Community is given 6 months to adopt base flood elevations in its local zoning and building code ordinances, and to meet other requirements.
  5. Community adopts more stringent ordinances and FEMA converts the community to NFIP's Regular Program.

Steps for Regular Program

  1. FEMA authorizes the sale of additional flood insurance in the community up to the Regular Program limits.
  2. Community implements adopted flood plain management measures.
  3. FEMA arranges for periodic community assistance visits with local officials to provide technical assistance regarding complying with NFIP floodplain management requirements.
  4. Local officials may request flood map updates as needed. FEMA evaluates requests, encourages cost-sharing, and issues revised maps as priorities dictate.

What would I use to request an amendment to a map?

Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA): This is used to revise the SFHA boundary based on detailed elevation surveying and/or topographic mapping of natural conditions. If the homesite and the lowest flood of the building (including basement or garage) is above the BFE, we can amend the map to remove the homesite and other land area from the SFHA. Thus mandatory flood insurance purchase is lifted.

Letter of Map Revision (LOMR): This is used for new detailed flood studies, drainage improvements, channel alterations, etc., where the boundaries of the SFHA are altered.

How would I apply for a LOMA or LOMR?

A MT-EZ application form must be completed and submitted for an individual residential lot LOMR or LOMA. Multi-lots and major LOMRs are submitted on MT-1 or MT-2 applications. All are processed in Washington, D. C. There are fees for these. Forms are available at http://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/31858

Can only a portion of a parcel be removed?

Yes, if FEMA is proved with a legal description of the land area above the base flood elevation, a LOMA or LOMR can be issued for only a portion of the parcel. Or, in our LOMA or LOMR we might state that only the immediate building site is removed from the SFHA, but that portions of the rest of the property remain within the SFHA, subject to all floodplain management regulations.

Where can I get a floodplain map?

Visit the FEMA Flood Map Store.

Who can I talk to in my community about the floodplain?

The NFIP Directory of Floodplain Administrators has been compiled to provide the list of City and County officials designated to administer the floodplain management program as adopted by their jurisdiction. Email (vacant) to receive contact information for those local officials.

How can I get more information?

The South Dakota Office of Emergency Management has published a "Quick Guide" for floodplain management. To request a copy, submit your name and address to Marc Macy, 605-773-2199.

Are there any other related programs?

Yes, the Flood Mitigation Assistance Grant and the Map Modernization Program.

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