My home was destroyed in a fire and my local building code official is telling me I have to elevate my replacement home due to flood concerns. My homeowners insurance will not cover the additional cost to elevate. How is that fair?
FEMA recognizes that communities have many priorities competing for their time, attention, and funding. FEMA also believes that public safety is a top priority of all communities. Understanding your community's hazard risks and taking action to mitigate that risk saves lives, property, and the heartache caused by disasters.
The elevation requirement is based on the flood risk to your property. Your original home was probably built before the latest flood study and maps were completed for your area. The community adopts floodplain management regulations and periodically adopts new flood maps to minimize flood risk to development, and in return for reducing flood risk, the Federal government makes flood insurance and other assistance available to residents of the community. One such floodplain management regulation is that new construction must be elevated to the Base (1-%-annual-chance) Flood Elevation (BFE), or higher if the community requires elevation above the BFE.
This situation arises when a homeowner in a flood hazard area does not carry flood insurance and the home is damaged by a flood. Homeowner's insurance will not cover the cost of elevation unless the owner purchased separate coverage that pays for the costs of meeting whatever building requirements exist when a building is rebuilt. If the owner had carried flood insurance, however, the flood policy would have paid up to $30,000 toward the cost of elevation.
While it may seem unfair to have this requirement, studies have found for every $1 spent on mitigation, such as elevating above the floodplain, approximately $4 is saved in losses avoided. There may be grants or low-interest loans available that will help you rebuild at the required elevation. You should check with the community floodplain administrator.