As climate change creates extreme rainfall, rising sea levels, and more intense hurricanes, the proportion of people across the globe living in flood-prone areas is growing. No matter where you live, though, no one is exempt from flood risk - where it rains, it can flood.
National Flood Insurance Program
The City of Rehoboth Beach participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As a participating community, the city has adopted floodplain management practices for development within Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA), which are 100-year floodplains (the area inundated by a storm that has a 1% or more chance of happening in any given year). For properties with any portion located within the 100-year floodplain, regardless of structure location, a flood insurance policy may be required.
The NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available for all buildings, whether or not they are in an SFHA. Please be aware that many homeowners' insurance policies do not cover flood damage. NFIP provides two types of coverage:
- structural coverage for walls, floors, insulation, furnaces, and other items permanently attached to the structure
- content coverage, purchased separately, protects contents in an insurable building.
The City of Rehoboth Beach floodplain ordinance requires all new structures, and substantially improved structures, to be constructed a minimum of one foot above the base flood elevation (BFE) as noted on the city’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).
Community Rating System (CRS)
The City of Rehoboth Beach participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), which is part of the NFIP. It is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed minimum NFIP requirements. Flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from a community’s actions to meet the three CRS goals:
1. reduce flood losses
2. facilitate accurate insurance rating
3. promote awareness of flood insurance.
The City of Rehoboth Beach currently has a CRS rating of 8 (on a scale of 1-10), which provides a 10% reduction in flood insurance premiums.
Assistance with flood-related information
Residents may obtain flood risk information, including basic map information, copies of elevation certificates when available, and other flood-related information by visiting the building and licensing department or emailing the city’s floodplain administrator, Matthew Janis, or calling 302-227-6181, ext. 208.
Want to know the flood zone of your property to determine your flood risk? Visit FEMA Flood Map Service Center. Paper copies of the city’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) may be viewed in the building and licensing department. If you need help interpreting a map, contact the floodplain administrator.
The following links provide useful information regarding flood insurance and flood-related topics:
FloodSmart.gov - official site of the NFIP
FEMA - National Flood Insurance Program
Ready.gov - information about disaster preparedness, including instructions on building a basic disaster supply kit
DNREC Flood Planning Tool - An interactive map application designed to aid in researching flood risk within Delaware
Flood preparedness and mitigation
Be prepared should flooding occur:
1. Know how to shut off the electricity and gas to your house (or buildings/structures).
2. Make a list of emergency numbers and identify a safe place to go to if you must evacuate.
3. Store insurance policies, valuable papers, medicine, etc. in a safe, dry place.
4. Make an inventory list, including taking photos, of the contents of your home.
6. Mark your fuse or breaker box to map the circuits to floodable areas.
7. Turning off the power to the basement can reduce property damage and save lives.
Consider undertaking the permanent flood-protection measures listed below. Ready.gov provides additional measures.
1. Consider floodproofing your structure or elevating it above flood levels.
2. Check your building for water entry points. These can be basement windows, basement stairwell, doors, or dryer vents. These entry points can be protected with low walls or temporary shields.
3. Install a sewer backflow device to prevent backflow drainage from entering your drains.
Note that some flood-protection measures may require a building permit; others may not be safe for your type of building. Be sure to talk to the building and licensing department at 302-227-6181, ext. 222 before proceeding.
Flood insurance may be a really good idea
Keep in mind:
- Homeowners and renter’s insurance do not typically cover flood damage.
- More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones.
- Flood insurance can pay regardless of whether or not there is a presidential disaster declaration.
- Disaster assistance comes in two forms: a U.S. Small Business Administration loan, which must be paid back with interest, or a FEMA disaster grant, which is about $5,000 on average per household. By comparison, the average flood insurance claim payment is significantly higher and does not have to be repaid.
- Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home
If you have determined that your house lies in a flood zone, a Flood Elevation Certificate can then tell you how high your house was built in relation to that flood zone.
These certificates are required for all new construction and substantial improvements to a structure. An elevation certificate is an important document that every homeowner should have, and in case of a disaster, would demonstrate to city authorities that your house is at or above the required elevation.
The building and licensing department maintains elevation certificates for properties that have been substantially improved or constructed in the City of Rehoboth Beach since August 2003.