Amelia Gomes  /   12/14/2022

Understanding Flood Zones

Flooding can be a disastrous and scary incident to face. That’s why different innovations are being made from time to time to curtail it. There are areas worldwide that are mapped and given different flood risk or flood type labels. Those are flood zones. They serve as a representation of the likelihood of flooding in a particular place.

This post will show you how flood zones are instrumental in preventing flooding and the other purposes they hold. By the end, you should be able to answer questions like, “How can flood zones prevent flooding?” and “Do flooding zones have other uses?”

Here at Community Lands, we are all about preventing environmental disasters that can harm your property. We help you understand how to protect your land and how the environment plays a role in land ownership. This valuable article will take you through flood zones and their unique qualities. Dive in to understand flooding zones, how to build on them, and their numerous uses.

What are flood zones?

In simple terms, flood zones are areas of land that might be submerged by floodwater. Over 20,000 American localities have been classified as flood zones by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. These areas are mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a warning method to assess the likelihood of river and sea flooding in specific places.

Flood zones were created to make it easier for communities, municipalities, and developers to comprehend the potential hazards of flooding in different areas while also considering the availability of flood defenses.

Flood zones also determine the need for and cost of flood insurance. However, it’s essential to know that while flood zones can be a beneficial indicator of a location’s flood danger, they cannot tell you if or how severely an area would flood.

Technically, every region is a flood zone; the concern is how much flooding might happen. Flood claims can occur in all three risk zones — low, moderate, and high. 

How are flood zones different from wetlands?

Understanding wetlands and flood zones are crucial when buying a property in any part of the world. 

This information has proven essential, as many people frequently interpret it. Some even use them as synonyms. So, in a bid to further describe flood zones, here are some differences between them and wetlands:

Presence Of Water 

Wetlands are permanently wet areas, like a marsh or swamp, and are home to aquatic plants and animals. On the other hand, flood zones are vulnerable to flooding but eventually dry up and are not permanently soggy.

While wetlands are a habitat that is sustained by or related to the presence of water and not just places where water can be seen, flood zones use prior floods to tell you what the risk of flooding is, not whether an area will flood or not.

There’s More Strategic Building Involved 

A similarity between flood zones and wetlands is that owners can construct them with relevant regulations and strategies. But regardless of this, they require a more intensive approach when it comes to building in those areas.

Building on flood zones entails a more complex and expensive approval and building process and more costly insurance. However, you may frequently build on flood zones under the SFHA above the base flood elevation (BFE).

How to build on flood zones

Building on a flood zone isn’t ideal, but the fierce rivalry for land has made this reality hard to avoid. In light of this, there are strategic ways you can go about this. Here are some tips to factor in during this process:

1. Risk Assessment

First, it’s essential to take care of the risk assessment of the likely flood depth the house will face. It would help if you did this before considering integrating potential flood protection within a property. The primary justification is that a building should not be constructed to keep water out if it is expected to flood to a depth of 500 mm or more since doing so could collapse the structure due to hydrostatic pressure.

2. Use resilient materials

Another thing to explore is employing resilient materials in the home’s architecture. This move reduces potential flooding damage and gives the house time to dry out after the flood. Resilient materials include the foundations, the timber you are working with, insulation, bricks, doors, flooring, and the walls within the home.

3. Lift your structures

Raising homes and other facilities above ground level is also a safe choice in flood-prone locations. Because elevated floors are difficult to insulate and seal, ensure that any pier foundation does not impair energy performance or air tightness. There is also a need for you to hire a hydraulic specialist to ensure the success of this.

4. Evaluate all documents

Before starting construction, you should examine the council regulations and relevant flood reports and maps. Suppose you want to make improvements or alterations to your house that change its original state. In that case, you may need development approval from the council. This could apply to heritage-listed properties, homes within a Demolition Control Precinct, houses on a small lot, or houses proposed to be raised beyond 9.5 m above ground level.

5. Prepare for more possibilities

The potential of elevating the height of your home, constructing or amending your house to conform to new standards, restoring or replacing a private pontoon, restoring your swimming pool, removing hazardous waste and asbestos, and imposing noise restrictions when building are some final factors to think about when building on a flood zone.

Uses of Flood Zones 

The Environment Agency established flood zones for various uses, mainly by providing helpful information that ascertains the likelihood of an area getting flooded. This resource flows into other benefits like erosion control and flood protection, to mention a few. Here are some you should know:

1. Help with flood risk assessment

2. The planning authorities use these zones to weigh the benefits and risks of development in these locations

3.  Determine whether and how much flood insurance is required

Knowing a property’s flood zones is essential for determining whether it will work for your plans and intended usage. In addition, it’s vital to remember that a property may not always be unfit or inappropriate just because parts of it may be located in a floodplain with a higher risk of flooding. All in all, you now know how to protect your property and prevent the disaster that comes with flooding by understanding flood zones.

To learn more about how to be the most efficient and environmentally-friendly land owner you can be, visit the Community Lands’ Learn Center.



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