KNOW YOUR FLOOD HAZARD
Being a coastal community, some properties within Bryan County are subject to flooding. Do you know your flood hazard? Bryan County wants all residents and businesses to know their flood hazard risks and has prepared brochures to help people educate themselves. Bryan County wants you to be:
FLOODING IN BRYAN COUNTY
In Bryan County the primary threat of flooding results from the “ponding” of water during heavy storms and potentially storm surge from hurricanes. Some flooding can result from events, especially when the ocean and river tides are running higher than normal. Bryan County is relatively flat and this causes storm water, in heavy rain events, to overwhelm the street drainage and storm outfall devices. There are many areas throughout the County that have recurring flooding problems. The natural low point running the entire length of the peninsula side of the County is especially subject to the “ponding” effect. Many storm water catch basins are located in this area, but are often overwhelmed, causing minor flooding. On rare occasions, flood waters may invade the lower-lying homes in those areas. Other areas of the County subject to localized flooding include the inhabited areas adjacent to the Ogeechee River which can rise rapidly depending on the amount of rainfall and water levels in the streams and tributaries.
DRAINAGE SYSTEM MAINTENANCE
A community can lose a portion of its drainage system carrying or storage capacity due to dumping, debris, soil erosion, sedimentation and overgrowth of vegetation. When this happens, flooding occurs more frequently and reaches higher elevations, subjecting otherwise protected properties to unnecessary risk of damage. Leaves, grass clippings, tree limbs and other debris can clog storm drains which act as a dam preventing water from leaving the roadway and property. Obviously, this can lead to dangerous conditions and cause property damage. Chapter 6, Sec 6-107, 10, B of the Bryan County Code of Ordinances makes it unlawful for any person to throw or deposit any solid wastes, trash or debris in any marsh area, stream, and drainage ditch, body of water or beach area. Yard debris and waste should be disposed of in appropriate ways in order to prevent clogging of the storm water grates and drainage system. If you experience or are aware of any localized drainage problems, including illegal stream dumping, please call the Planning & Zoning Department at 912-756-3177. We are available for site visits and inspections to evaluate potential problems and to make suggestions to minimize future risk.
FLOOD SAFETY MEASURES
Measures can be taken to ensure the safety of life and property before, during and after a flood:
•Avoid building in a floodplain.
•Construct barriers (levees, berms, floodwalls) to stop water from entering your home.
•Seal walls with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
•Create floodway openings, by using engineered flood vents, in non-habitable areas such as garages.
•Know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. A watch means flooding is possible. A warning means flooding is occurring or will occur soon.
•Be prepared! Pack a bag with important items in case you need to evacuate. Don’t forget to include needed medications and take appropriate steps to protect pets.
•Designate a place where your family can meet after an evacuation order is lifted in case you get separated.
“Know your evacuation route”
•If a flood is likely in our area, listen to the radio, television or go online for information:
Radio: 89.1 FM
KSVN – Hunter Army Airfield
Television: WTOC News
•Place sand bags to reduce erosion and scouring.
•Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves and
disconnect electrical appliances.
•Elevate furniture & electronics.
•If possible, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.
•If advised to evacuate your home, do so immediately.
•If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
•Do not walk through moving water. As little as 6 inches of moving water can make you fall.
•If you have to walk in water wear rubber boots and walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
•Avoid outdoor floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage, and may also be electrically charged from damaged utility lines and equipment. In addition, snakes and wildlife will be displaced from their regular habitat.
•Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots. The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water. Attempting to drive through water also may stall your engine, with the potential to cause irreparable damage if you try to restart the engine. If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route. “Turn around, don’t drown”
•Check local news or your utility’s website for messages about the safety of your water supply.
•Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of an automobile.
•Stay away from downed power lines and damaged equipment, and report them to your power company.
•Return home only when you are told to do so by appropriate authorities that it is safe to do so.
PROPERTY PROTECTION MEASURES
Flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other type of natural disaster. While recent construction practices and regulations have made new homes less prone to flooding, many existing structures remain susceptible. Several effective ways to mitigate future flooding include relocating a building to a higher site; keeping water away from the property or retrofitting structures to make them flood proof. Retrofitting is a different approach in that the property itself remains subject to flooding while the building is modified to prevent or minimize flooding of habitable space, and can be accomplished by elevating the structure above flood protection levels, construction of barriers (floodwalls, berms), and/or dry flood proofing (permits entry and passage of flood waters).
BUY FLOOD INSURANCE
For most people, their home and its contents represent their greatest investment. Property losses due to flooding are not covered under most homeowners’ insurance policies; however, flood insurance can be obtained through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP was established by Congress in 1968, enabling property owners to buy flood insurance at reasonable rates in participating communities. In return, those communities carry out flood management measures designed to protect life and property during future flooding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its Federal Insurance Administration, administers the NFIP.
To find out more about flood insurance, contact an insurance agent. Since there is usually a thirty (30) day waiting period before a flood insurance policy takes effect, do not wait until a storm threatens before securing flood insurance.
APPLY FOR PERMITS
Any type of development or building requires a permit from your local jurisdiction. Development in a floodplain requires that special procedures and regulations be followed. Chapter 6, section 6-502D of the Bryan County Code of Ordinances requires compliance with the applicable flood regulations for construction and/or improvement to structure(s) and/or land.
Contact the Bryan County Planning & Zoning Department at 912-756-3177 to:
•Obtain a flood zone determination.
•Discuss any flood related requirements or information.
•Request a FEMA Elevation Certificate for post 1991 structures located inside a special flood hazard area.
•Report suspected illegal flood plain development.
FLOODPLAIN FUNCTIONS & BENEFITS
The major flood component of a riverine system is the floodway. Floodways are defined as that area of the watercourse that is necessary to carry the base flood without increasing the water surface elevation more than one foot. Development is heavily regulated in flood way areas. Floodplains are areas adjacent to rivers, ponds, lakes, and oceans that are flooded at different points in time. The importance of maintaining natural floodplains is not a difficult idea to understand. These are hydrologically important, environmentally sensitive, and ecologically productive areas that perform many natural functions. They contain cultural and natural resources that are of great recreational, educational, and scenic value to society. Riverine systems such as the Ogeechee, Canoochee and Jerico Rivers vary in steepness, width, flow, sediment deposition, and erosion. These riverine floodplains typically flood during the tropical storm events, but are subject to periodic flooding due to excessive rainfall. The flooding brings erosion and deposition of soils and can dramatically affect the shape of the floodplain, the depth and composition of soils, the type and density of vegetation, the presence and extent of wetlands, richness and diversity of wildlife, and the depth of groundwater. Riverine systems are important habitats for a variety of fish, reptiles, vegetation and furbearing wildlife. Flood waters can carry nutrient-rich sediments which contribute to a fertile environment for vegetation. The sustaining attributes of the floodplain have historically attracted human settlements as they provided a wealth of food and the easiest means of travel. Consequently, floodplains include many archaeological and historical sites. Floodplains also serve as a nature study center for scientific research. Due to the scenic, cultural, and scientific value, floodplains are ideal locations for parks and recreational areas. In addition, floodplains are important because of storage, conveyance, and protection of water quality, and groundwater recharge.
Marshes, near-shore ocean bottoms, beaches, bays, coastal dune lakes, tidal flats, and estuaries are all components that make up the coastal floodplain of Bryan County. Coastal floodplains are important to estuarine and marine fisheries. Estuarine wetlands are important for breeding, nursery, and feeding grounds for marine fisheries, waterfowl and other wildlife.
Human development and industrialization take a toll on the natural functions of floodplains. Development in the floodplains causes decreases in water quality, loss of wildlife habitats, and an increase in severity and frequency of flood events and losses. Maintaining the natural functions of floodplains, through better floodplain management practices, will better protect the natural and beneficial functions of floodplains.
Hurricanes are strong storms that can be life-threatening as well as cause serious property-threatening hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds and tornadoes. Preparation is the best protection so “Know your evacuation route” and understand the threat levels:
Hurricane conditions are a threat within 48 hours. Review your hurricane plans. Get ready to act if a warning is issued, and stay informed. Take appropriate steps to protect your pets.
Hurricane conditions are expected within 36 hours. Finish storm preparations & obey evacuation orders.
•Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS).
•Check your disaster supplies. Consider filling containers/tubs with water.
•Charge electronic devices.
•Move outside items that may become windborne inside.
•Close your windows, doors and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, close and board up all windows and doors with plywood.
•Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting. Keep them closed as much as to extend the life of the food in a power outage.
•Disconnect small appliances, grills & propane tanks.
•Make sure your automobile’s gas tank is full.
•“Know your evacuation route” create a hurricane evacuation plan with members of your household. Practice your evacuation plan to minimize confusion and fear during the event.
•Find out about your community’s hurricane response plan. Plan routes to local shelters, register family members with special medical needs and make plans for your pets to be cared for.
•Avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges:
“Turn around, don’t drown”
SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT REQUIREMENTS
Bryan County requires that if, over a five (5) year period, the cumulative costs of remodels, reconstruction, rehabilitation, additions or other building improvements equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s appraised value the building must be brought into compliance with the flood plain ordinance requirements. Substantially damaged buildings must also be brought up to the same standards (e.g., a residence damaged so that the cost of repairs equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s value before it was damaged must be elevated at least one foot above the base flood elevation). The assessed value of the structure, as listed by the Bryan County Tax Assessor’s Office, shall be determined before the improvement is started. If the structure has been damaged and is being restored, a determination would be made of what the assessed value was before the damage or destruction occurred.
REPETITIVE LOSS PROPERTIES
Repetitive loss properties represent only one percent of all flood insurance policies, yet historically they account for one-third of the claim payments. Mitigation of flood risk to repetitive loss properties reduces the overall costs to the National Flood Insurance Programs (NFIP) well as to individual homeowners. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has several grants and an extra flood insurance program to help repetitive loss property owners reduce exposure to flood damage.
•Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) - A grant made available after a Presidential disaster declaration.
•Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) – A nationally competitive grant that the County can apply for each year. www.fema.gov/government/grant/pdm/index.shtm
•Severe Repetitive Loss (SRL) – A grant that is reserved for “Severe” repetitive loss properties, i.e. those with their flood insurance policies administered by FEMA’s Special Direct Facility. www.fema.gov/government/grant/srl/index.shtm
•Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) – An extra flood insurance claim payment that can be provided if an insured building was flooded and then declared substantially damaged by the local permit office.
Most of the FEMA grants provide 75% of the cost of a project. The owner is expected to fund the other 25%. ICC pays up to $30,000 of the cost of bringing the damaged building up to the local ordinance flood protection standards.
What you can do:
•Check websites and read up on the details of the funding programs that are appropriate for your situation. For example, if Georgia has not been declared a Federal disaster area for some time, look at the grants that have annual application procedures.
•Keep your flood insurance policy in force. Only properties with a valid/active flood insurance policy are eligible for grants & ICC funding.
Bryan County EMA: 912-858-2799
Planning and Zoning: 912-756-3177
Public Works: 912-653-4511
FLOOD & EMERGENCY INFORMATION
BRYAN COUNTY: www.bryancountyga.org
National Weather Service: www.weather.gov
Evacuation Route: www.bryancountyga.org/home/showdocument?id=1014
To receive severe weather and flooding alerts text:
follow BryanCountyEMA to 40404.
Follow Bryan County Emergency Services on Facebook @: www.facebook.com/BryanCountyEmergencyServices/