understanding FLOOD ZONES in South Carolina in the Charleston and Mt. Pleasant SC areas
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FLOOD ZONES IN THE CHARLESTON SC AREA

Charleston, South Carolina is called the lowcountry for a reason, much of the land in the area is close to sea level interspersed among rivers, creeks, sounds, harbors, and the intercoastal waterway.. there is a good chance mandatory flood insurance will need to be purchased through FEMA, as required by the Federal Government. This flood insurance coverage is required before you can obtain financing on your home. The federal regulated flood insurance premium required is reasonable.

It is for views like this that Charlestonians continue to build in flood zones.CLICK HERE to see more about this home. 

It must be determined in which flood zone a home is located before a loan is taken on the home. Flood zones are constantly being reevaluated and changed, and the system for catagorizing a flood area is intricate. It is confusing to most homeowners what constitutes a "good" flood zone rating.

 

Flood Insurance coverage is required by law for those people determined to be living in special flood hazard areas. The area’s determined to be in a flood zone are from the prior one hundred years and are a direct response to disasters occurring like melting snows, heavy rains, tropical storms, hurricanes as well as failed drainage systems or dams.

These types of high water occurrences make the property owners more prone and highly susceptible to flooding waters.

Prior to 1968, taxpayers across the country helped to shoulder the burden of providing relief and funding for flood victims in  highly prone flood areas.

As these bail outs occurred more and more frequently with the increase of building and living in flood prone areas, the taxpayer began to question this practice of helping. Therefore, the United States Government created a type of self-insurance for people who want to live in these special flood zone areas.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created and directed by the United States Congress to oversee this program called the National Flood Insurance Program. This program was designed to mitigate future flood damage claims against the Federal Government, as well as ultimately free up the individual taxpayer from the burden and responsibility of restoring flood victims lives back to as they were before the peril happened.

People who choose to live in a high water special flood hazard area are now required to pay FEMA, the pre-set government regulated premium for their flood insurance coverage. These premiums that FEMA collect for underwriting the flood insurance is then used to offset any future claims needing payment as a result of high flooding waters.

There are now over 20,000 communities in the United States enforcing the flood plain management ordinances. This strong partnership between communities, lenders, and insurance companies now saves the American taxpayer millions of dollars each year in disaster relief money.

The main reason for the program's success is the direct result of NFIP’s strict ordinances and compliance procedures. This very strict government ordinance requires financial institutions which are regulated by the Federal government to perform and prepare what is called a flood determination letter.

If the building or home is determined to be in a special flood hazard area, then the financial institution loaning the money is required to provide documentation to the Federal Government showing all necessary flood insurance premiums have been obtained and paid prior to loan financing. Flood Insurance must also be maintained and in force for the remainder of the loan.

As a result of the strict government guidelines, people choosing to live in flood zones areas are required to pay flood insurance premiums or their mortgage loan will be considered in default. Premiums collected by FEMA will ultimately be used to offset high water damage caused by flooding waters for the people paying flood insurance premiums.

Homes built to FEMA's strict guidelines and located in a flood zone will have a 26% chance of needing the flood insurance coverage sometime the term of their 30 year mortgage.

 

FEMA Flood Zone Definitions

Zone V is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year coastal floodplains that have additional hazards associated with storm waves. Because approximate hydraulic analyses are performed for such areas, no BFEs -no base flood elevations are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

 

Zone VE is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year coastal floodplains that have additional hazards associated with storm waves. BFEs derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

 

Zone A is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the 100-year floodplains that are determined in the Flood Insurance Study by approximate methods. Because detailed hydraulic analyses are not performed for such areas, no Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

 

Zones AE and A1-A30 are the flood insurance rate zones that correspond to the 100-year floodplains that are determined in the Flood Insurance Study by detailed methods. In most instances, Base Flood Elevations derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

 

Zone AH is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the areas of 100-year shallow flooding with a constant water-surface elevation (usually areas of ponding) where average depths are between 1 and 3 feet. The BFEs derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

 

Zone AO is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the areas of 100-year shallow flooding (usually sheet flow on sloping terrain) where average depths are between 1 and 3 feet. The depth should be averaged along the cross section and then along the direction of flow to determine the extent of the zone. Average flood depths derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown within this zone. In addition, alluvial fan flood hazards are shown as Zone AO on the FIRM. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

 

Zone AR is the flood insurance rate zone used to depict areas protected from flood hazards by flood control structures, such as a levee, that are being restored. FEMA will consider using the Zone AR designation for a community if the flood protection system has been deemed restorable by a Federal agency in consultation with a local project sponsor; a minimum level of flood protection is still provided to the community by the system; and restoration of the flood protection system is scheduled to begin within a designated time period and in accordance with a progress plan negotiated between the community and FEMA. Mandatory purchase requirements for flood insurance will apply in Zone AR, but the rate will not exceed the rate for unnumbered A zones if the structure is built in compliance with Zone AR floodplain management regulations.

For floodplain management in Zone AR areas, elevation is not required for improvements to existing structures. However, for new construction, the structure must be elevated (or flood proofed for non-residential structures) such that the lowest floor, including basement, is a maximum of 3 feet above the highest adjacent existing grade if the depth of the base flood elevation (BFE) does not exceed 5 feet at the proposed development site. For infill sites, rehabilitation of existing structures, or redevelopment of previously developed areas, there is a 3 foot elevation requirement regardless of the depth of the BFE at the project site.

The Zone AR designation will be removed and the restored flood control system shown as providing protection from the 1% annual chance flood on the NFIP map upon completion of the restoration project and submittal of all the necessary data to FEMA.

 

Zone A99 is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to areas of the 100-year floodplains that will be protected by a Federal flood protection system where construction has reached specified statutory milestones. No BFEs or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.

 

The Zone D designation on NFIP maps is used for areas where there are possible but undetermined flood hazards. In areas designated as Zone D, no analysis of flood hazards has been conducted. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements do not apply, but coverage is available. The flood insurance rates for properties in Zone D are commensurate with the uncertainty of the flood risk.

 

Zones B, C, and X are the flood insurance rate zones that correspond to areas outside the 100-year floodplains, areas of 100-year sheet flow flooding where average depths are less than 1 foot, areas of 100-year stream flooding where the contributing drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the 100-year flood by levees. No BFEs or depths are shown within this zone.

 

Learn more about Flood Insurance at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Official Website.

 

Insurance lesson from 'Three Little Pigs'
November 27, 2007 - The Post and Courier

Here's a lesson on hurricane insurance, by the Three Little Pigs.

There was a recent directive issued by the South Carolina Department of Insurance requesting all commercial and personal property insurance companies to give premium credits to policy holders for the use of certain "loss mitigation" building construction techniques. This directive was the result of recently enacted legislation by the General Assembly.
The General Assembly and the Department of Insurance heeded the lesson from the third of the Three Little Pigs, who knew the secret to wind loss mitigation
build a house that cannot be destroyed by the sly old fox huffing and puffing to blow it down.
The third little pig built his house using the best construction material and engineering for the times, brick, even though it took longer and cost more. The other two pigs built their houses out of straw and sticks respectively.
The only long-term solution to our hurricane insurance problem is to build and retrofit houses and buildings so that they will withstand hurricanes. The directive by the Department of Insurance is the first step toward recognizing the long-term solution and starting a movement to change the thinking and behavior of everyone concerned with solving the problem.
Developers, contractors, banks, building-code inspectors, architects, engineers and the purchasers of homes and commercial buildings need to adhere to the third little pig's risk management thinking in order to solve the problem.
Insurance companies have to start seriously differentiating between the first little pig and the third little pig's construction techniques and reward quality construction with lower premiums.
Unfortunately, as a nation, we didn't pay much attention to construction techniques related to wind survival until the discovery of two realities, which caused huge increases in premiums over the past years. After hurricane Andrew in Florida there was a determination that construction techniques that could withstand wind had not been used. After Hurricane Katrina there was an understanding that the total insured values on the coast were much larger than expected. Couple the fear of poor construction with a lack of capacity (insurance company capital) to cover total insured values, and you develop a crisis.
Other than the loss-mitigation crediting program recently published by the Department of Insurance, all other rhetoric and initiatives have been focused on who is going to pay for hurricane losses. The debate has been about how claims are going to be distributed among the insurance companies and taxpayers in the form of government-sponsored programs and the South Carolina Wind and Hail Pool. We can debate these matters forever, but the root cause of our problem will not be solved until we listen to the lesson so aptly told to us by the mother of the Three Little Pigs: "Whatever you do, do it the best you can because that's the way to get along in the world."
JAMES H. SUDDETH, MBA, CIC, CRM
President
First Carolina Risk Management Advisors

 

 

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