What are some mitigation actions that coastal communities can take?

Mitigation is best employed at the time a coastal building is planned and designed, because that affords an opportunity to maximize mitigation benefits while minimizing mitigation costs.

For new construction, mitigation efforts can best be directed at the following:

If a property owner has an existing building and wants to make it more hazard resistant, the building can be "retrofitted." While it is preferable to design and build in a hazard-resistant method originally, there are steps an owner of an existing building can take, particularly with respect to wind and wind-driven rain resistance. Improving the flood resistance of an existing building often involves elevating the building on a new foundation.

Other helpful tips include:

  • Consult the building code official and floodplain administrator, as well as others with knowledge of local construction requirements and hazards. Discuss design options with a knowledgeable insurance agent-before the design is finalized-in order to maximize any insurance discounts that may be available.
  • Understand the risk of building along the coast and select a parcel that is not on the shoreline and preferably is not in an SFHA. If a property has not yet been acquired, select a parcel that has a stable shoreline, or if the shoreline is erosional, select a parcel with a low erosion rate; select a parcel that is large enough to accommodate construction without encroaching on sand dunes or a bluff edge; a generous setback from dunes, bluffs and shorelines is recommended.
  • If a property has been acquired, site the building on the portion of the parcel away from dunes, bluffs, eroding shorelines and sensitive site features. If the land is on the shoreline, consider other uses, including donating/selling the land to a land trust to keep as open space. Investigating whether there is transfer/purchase of development rights program in your community is another option to consider.
  • Elevate the lowest floor of the building above the Base (1-%-annual-chance) Flood Elevation (BFE). Adding freeboard (a factor of safety usually expressed in feet above a flood level for the purposes of floodplain management) will reduce the likelihood and severity of flood damage, and will yield substantial flood insurance premium discounts.
  • Where appropriate, use VE Zone foundations in AE Zones. Use a deep and open foundation (piles or columns) that can resist erosion and allow flood water and waves to pass through unobstructed. This may be appropriate in areas designated as LiMWAs on the FIRM and other areas known to the community to be at high risk.
  • Consider maintaining natural buffers along shorelines (i.e., keep vegetation in its natural state).
  • Design all aspects of the elevated building to resist wind and wind-driven rain. Protect all windows, doors, and openings by using shutters or by constructing using impact-resistant glazing. Building codes have minimum design and construction requirements, but these do not necessarily translate into a wind-resistant and watertight building. Post-storm investigations often reveal deficiencies in buildings subject to less than design wind speeds.

Show All Answers

1. Why does FEMA map coastal flood hazards?
2. I have never seen a flood here. Why is this area shown as a high risk flood zone?
3. A recent large storm hit near my house and it didn’t flood; are you sure these maps indicate the current flood risk in my area?
4. What is the difference between a Zone VE and a Zone AE flood hazard designation?
5. Why did FEMA choose the 1-percent standard?
6. How does the preliminary map issuance change my flood insurance rate?
7. Why is FEMA creating new coastal maps when there are so many other public priorities?
8. What different methodologies are used in performing coastal studies and why?
9. Why are there multiple flood studies occurring in my community?
10. Are the flood hazards shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map based on historic coastal flood events?
11. How accurate are coastal flood study results?
12. How can coastal flood studies be made more accurate?
13. If there is a margin of error in coastal flood studies, how can FEMA be sure that its flood insurance mandatory purchase requirement is not being applied to structures outside the Special Flood Hazard
14. At what scale are coastal flood studies performed?
15. Are the flood study results appealable?
16. Is it possible for community officials or individual property owners to appeal a coastal study when FEMA used supercomputers to obtain the results presented on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?
17. Why isn't FEMA using the latest two-dimensional wave models to estimate wave effects over land?
18. Why is the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) near my property different than the BFE near my neighbor’s property?
19. What is the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA)?
20. How is the LiMWA mapped?
21. How should I build in areas near the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA)?
22. Does the LiMWA impact flood insurance premiums?
23. What is a Primary Frontal Dune (PFD)? How are the PFD lines drawn?
24. How long does it take to conduct a coastal flood study?
25. Why does a coastal study take so long?
26. What stakeholders are involved in conducting a coastal flood study?
27. Why is the modeling for a coastal study so complex?
28. How long is the appeal process and compliance period?
29. How is FEMA accounting for sea level rise and climate change on the FIRMs? Does sea level rise/climate change affect the FIRMs?
30. How are the FEMA maps different from NOAA’s inundation/evacuation maps?
31. Why isn’t our beach nourishment and/or dune construction project included in the coastal map study analysis and resulting mapping?
32. How do you assure that the analysis includes enough information to depict the flood risk near my home?
33. What is the Joint Probability Method?
34. What is a synthetic storm?
35. Does FEMA include tsunamis on the flood hazard maps?
36. What is the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS)?
37. What is the CBRS digital conversion project?
38. Why shouldn’t the FIRM be used to make CBRS determinations?
39. Why did FEMA remove some survey benchmarks?
40. Why am I in the mapped SFHA if my house is on a dune above the BFE?
41. What are some mitigation actions that coastal communities can take?
42. Can a community require higher BFEs to encourage higher building standards?
43. My homeowners insurance will not cover the additional cost to elevate. How is that fair?
44. Is it considered “new construction” if I replace my home after a disaster event?
45. Can I build on my property in the floodplain?
46. I can’t afford to elevate my home out of the floodplain. Is there any assistance available for me?
47. Why does FEMA promote development in the floodplain by offering flood insurance?
48. Why am I required to purchase flood insurance?
49. When am I required to purchase flood insurance?
50. Who determined that I was required to purchase flood insurance?
51. What information should I bring with me to meet with a flood insurance agent?
52. Can I shop around for flood insurance?
53. Why should I purchase flood insurance?
54. What can I do to get the cost of my flood insurance premium to be as low as possible?
55. Are there any modifications that I can make to my home to reduce my flood insurance rate?
56. Are extensive engineering studies needed in order to obtain a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA)?