Alabama's Quick Guide
The Alabama Office of Water Resources, Floodplain Management Branch, is pleased to provide this Quick Guide to help our citizens understand what floodplain management is and why floodplain development is regulated. It will help you understand more about why and how communities in the State of Alabama manage floodplains to protect people and property.
Counties and local communities regulate development in floodplains to:
- Protect people and property;
- Ensure that Federal flood insurance and other disaster assistance are available;
- Save tax dollars;
- Reduce liability and lawsuits;
- Reduce future flood losses.
Floods have been, and continue to be, a destructive natural hazard in terms of economic loss to the citizens of Alabama. Since 1978, Federal flood insurance policy holders in Alabama have received over 39,200 paid claims and $1.02 billion in claims payments. Even though that represents many insurance payments, most of the State’s flood-prone property owners do not have flood insurance.
Association of State Floodplain Managers
ASFPM is an organization of professionals in the US interested in floods, floodplain management and related topics. It is the world's leading voice for sound floodplain management, science and policy, with 36 U.S. chapters, and more than 17,000 members worldwide. The Association's website contains news of national, state, and local interests.
The mission of ASFPM is to promote education, policies and activities that mitigate current and future losses, costs and human suffering caused by flooding, and to protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains - all without causing adverse impacts.
Flood Disaster Assistance Resources
Alabama Post-Flood Recovery Guide - The Alabama specific“Post-Flood Recovery Guidebook” was developed to assist communities in:
- responding to a flood or hurricane event,
- enforcing the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requirements for rebuilding efforts, and
- outlining suitable disaster recovery measures that will help reduce future flood damages.
The Guidebook not only looks at strategies and methods to reduce future flood damages, but also considers multi-objective planning strategies to restore and preserve the natural resources and environments associated with Alabama’s floodplains.
American Red Cross
When a disaster threatens or strikes, the Red Cross can provide immediate assistance until local and state agencies are able to mobilize. Red Cross can provide:
- Health and mental health services,
- Feeds emergency workers,
- Handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area,
- Provides blood and blood products to disaster victims, and
- Helps those affected by disaster to access other available resources.
For Red Cross assistance, please contact your local chapter.
- North Alabama Chapter - Cherokee, Colbert, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marshall and Morgan counties. Click here for North Alabama assistance
- Central Alabama Chapter - Autauga, Bullock, Chilton, Clay, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Lowndes, Macon, Montgomery, Perry, Tallapoosa and Wilcox counties. Click here for Central Alabama assistance
Alabama Emergency Management Agency (AEMA)
- National Weather Service's Southeast River Forecast Center NWS SRC
FEMA Disaster Assistance and Resources
FEMA provides many resources for local officials and homeowners to use in response to a flood disaster. Here are some links:
- Ready.gov site for flooding - This page explains what actions to take when you receive a flood watch or warning alert from the National Weather Service for your local area and what to do before, during, and after a flood. Click here
- DisasterAssistance.org - The official website devoted to helping disaster survivors. It’s a portal to help survivors locate more than 70 forms of assistance across 17 federal agencies via the internet using their desktop computer, tablet or mobile device. Using prescreening technology, DisasterAssistance.gov offers an anonymous questionnaire that generates a personalized list of assistance a survivor can apply for based on the answers. The site also provides other disaster-related information and resources to help before, during and after a disaster.
News Feeds | Immediate Needs | Moving Forward | Community Resources | Disabilities or Access and Functional Needs | Older Americans | Children and Families | Disaster Types | Foreign Disasters | Fact Sheets Click here
- Fact Sheet: Disaster Application Checklist Fact Sheet
FEMA's Substantial Damage Determination Resources
Local officials in communities that participate in the NFIP must determine whether proposed work qualifies as a substantial improvement or repair of substantial damage (referred to as an “SI/SD determination”). If work on buildings constitutes SI/SD, then structures must be brought into compliance with NFIP requirements for new construction, including the requirement that lowest floors be elevated to or above the base flood elevation (BFE).
- Substantial improvement (SI) means any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure (or smaller percentage if established by the community) before the “start of construction” of the improvement. This term includes structures that have incurred “substantial damage,” regardless of the actual repair work performed.
- Substantial damage (SD) means damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. Work on structures that are determined to be substantially damaged is considered to be substantial improvement, regardless of the actual repair work performed.
FEMA's Increased Cost of Compliance Resources
If eligible, National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policyholders may receive up to $30,000 of Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage to help pay the costs to bring their building into compliance with their community’s floodplain ordinance. The coverage availability and payment limits are subject to the terms of the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) and maximum coverage limits, including all applicable NFIP rules and regulations.
You may be eligible to file a claim for your ICC coverage in two instances:
- When your community determines that your building is “substantially damaged”, wherein the cost to repair or improve the structure exceeds its market value by a threshold amount adopted by law or ordinance. Community building officials are responsible for the issuance of substantial damage declarations.
- When your community has a “repetitive loss” provision in its floodplain management ordinance and determines that your building was damaged by a flood two times in the past 10 years, where the cost of repairing the flood damage, on average, equaled or exceeded 25 percent of its market value at the time of each flood.
There are four options you can pursue to comply with your community’s floodplain management ordinance and help reduce future flood damage to your building. You may decide which of these options is best for you. They include:
(1) Floodproofing, (2) Relocation, (3) Elevation, and (4) Demolition.