FEMA- NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM (NFIP):
Warren and all other Rhode Island cities and towns participate the NFIP, which allows residents and business owners to purchase Federally-backed flood insurance. Because standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions. For more information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at https://www.floodsmart.gov/ which includes clear and detailed information on this program.
KNOW YOUR OWN FLOOD HAZARD
Official FEMA flood maps for the City can be viewed using the FEMA Map Service Center website. Just type your address into the box and view or download the map.
RHODE ISLAND FLOODPLAIN MAPPING TOOL
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) has an interactive floodplain map on their website (linked below) that works for the whole state. The Floodplain Mapping Tool link is on the right-hand side of RIEMA's home page. Click on “View larger map” and you can zoom in to neighborhood scale and find the flood zones in your area. Each white dot represents an address...click on them to get the address of the property at that location. This is unofficial but very accurate.
FEMA ELEVATION CERTIFICATES (ECs)
Elevation Certificates are used to obtain the elevation of a building to determine whether it is within the floodplain and, if so, by how much. That information figures into the price of flood insurance for a property. If an elevation certificate has been prepared for your property, you maybe able to obtain a copy from the property's developer or from the Town's building department files. If an elevation certificate is not available and you need one, contact a licensed land surveyor to prepare one for you. The cost of this service varies by location; get a few quotes if possible and compare.
FLOOD SAFETY TIPS
The Red Cross webpage and the NOAA flood safety webpage linked below offer a wealth of advice on flood safety.
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT/SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE REQUIREMENTS
The National Flood Insurance Program requires that all structures within a designated 100 year flood zone be brought into compliance with current building standards if there is substantial damage to the structure, regardless of the cause, or if substantial improvements are added. They are defined as follows.
"Substantial damage" 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.
"Substantial improvement" means any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other proposed new development of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent of the market value of the structure before the "start of construction" of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred "substantial damage", regardless of the actual repair work performed.
Requirements for a structure to be in compliance include: anchoring the structure against movement by floodwaters, the foundation must be resistant to flood forces and be constructed of flood resistant materials, the lowest floor must be flood-proofed (not permitted for residential structures) or elevated so the enclosed space is at least one foot above the level of the 100-year flood, and all utilities must be resistant to flood damage.
The FEMA Substantial Damage/Substantial Improvement Desk Reference can be downloaded from the FEMA webpage linked to here:
Above: Flood zone construction diagrams. V-zone new construction (top) must be open at floodplain levels, with first floor elevated one foot or more above the floodplain per the Rhode Island State Building Code, which incorporates International Building Code requirements. This V-zone open area may only be used for parking, building access, or storage. A-zone new construction (bottom) can have vented foundations to let floodwaters pass through.
FLOODPLAINS: NATURAL/BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS
Flooding is a natural process that forms and maintains floodplains and coastal zones. Periodic flows of water that overtop the banks of a river and that encroach upon coastal areas are the lifeblood of river and stream corridors, marshes, beaches, and other natural areas. The seasonal variability of flow, incessant wave action, and intermittent extreme events all combine to determine both the physical structure and the biological diversity of flood prone areas. Finding the delicate balance between human needs and environmental sustainability is a difficult undertaking. Successful, sustainable flood hazard reduction solutions need to be based on the forces at work in floodplains and coastal zones and also on the resources that these flood prone areas provide.
- Provide flood storage. Many floodplains temporarily store flood waters and reduce flood heights and velocities for downstream areas.
- Reduce wave damage. Some vegetated coastal floodplain areas reduce the force of waves and resulting wave and erosion damage to back lying properties and structures.
- Reduce excessive erosion. Many vegetated floodplain areas help stem erosion by reducing water velocities, maintaining stream channels and stabilizing streambank soil.
- Provide groundwater discharge. Some floodplains help maintain the base flow of streams and help to reduce ground water levels (which would otherwise flood basements).
- Produce natural vegetation. Many types of floodplains and wetlands produce natural vegetation not found in upland (dry) areas.
- Treat (remove) pollution in water body. Wetlands located in lakes, streams, estuaries, depressions, and at other locations may remove pollutants from waters.
- Provide habitat for fish and shellfish. Floodplains adjacent to rivers, lakes and the tidal waters can provide food chain support, spawning areas, rearing areas, and shelter for fish. Many estuarine wetlands provide shellfish habitat.
- Provide habitat for amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and insect species. Many floodplains and floodplain wetlands provide habitat for a broad range of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and birds and corridors for migration or movement.
- Provide habitat for song birds and other nongame birds. A broad range of floodplains and wetlands provide habitat for nongame birds important for ecotourism.
Ways in which you can protect waterways, wetlands and floodplains:
- Do not dump pollutants into storm drains and catch basins.
- Minimize fertilizer use or use slow-release fertilizers.
- Help to keep your neighborhood litter-free.
- Do not dump grass clippings, leaves, and other yard waste; utilize the City's regular weekly waste collections.
- Do not feed ducks or geese.