Flood Recovery Library


The Flood Insurance Claims Handbook

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides assistance and support to protect the life you’ve worked hard to build.  This 12-page handbook helps you take full advantage of the flood insurance policy you purchased, if or when you experience a flood — whether you are a homeowner, renter, or business owner.  FEMA created this claims handbook and the Agency oversees the NFIP. 

NFIP Claims Handbook provides step-by-step guidance on the things you need to know about filing a flood claim.


Flood Mitigation Options

  • Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Protect your investment in your home by purchasing flood insurance, even if you do not live in a high-risk flood zone.
  • Elevate your home’s lowest floor above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). Elevating can lower flood insurance premiums and reduce the risk from increased future flood levels.
  • Elevate or floodproof HVAC and/or mechanical units, ductwork, electrical systems, and other utilities above the BFE to protect against flood damage and reduce repair costs.
  • Install flood vents in foundation walls, garages, and other enclosed areas. Flood vents reduce flood damage by allowing water to flow through and drain out.
  • Use flood-resistant materials in areas of your home below the BFE, like replacing carpeting with tiles or using flood-resistant insulation and gypsum wallboard (Sheetrock), to prevent water from doing major damage.
  • Anchor any fuel tanks to the floor and make sure vents and fill line openings are above the BFE (this may require permission from your fuel provider). A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, spilling fuel and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Install a backflow valve on your sewer system to prevent sewage back up in your home.
  • Add waterproof veneer to exterior walls to prevent shallow flooding from damaging your home. Seal your basement walls with waterproofing compounds.


Property Protection 


Second-Story Conversion – Elevation Project Design Considerations for Hazard Mitigation Assistance Applicants

Elevation is a common mitigation method for structures that are at risk of flooding, and is an eligible mitigation project under the FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grant Programs.  Structure elevation activities generally involve physically raising an existing structure in accordance with the 2015 HMA Guidance, or latest edition, and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standard Flood Resistant Design and Construction (ASCE 24-14), or latest edition.  ASCE 24-14 includes elevation to the Base Flood Elevation [BFE] plus freeboard, or higher when required by FEMA, local ordinance, or building code. 

Structure elevation may be achieved through a variety of methods, including elevating on continuous foundation walls; elevating on open foundations, such as piles, piers, posts, or columns; and elevating on fill.  There are situations, such as structures with a slab-on-grade foundation, where physically raising the building is not feasible or cost-effective.  FEMA conducted research to identify alternative flood mitigation methods to address these types of situations and published Second Story Conversion Elevation Fact Sheet as recovery advisories.  The purpose of this 6-page fact sheet is to identify project design considerations that should be taken into account when developing these types of HMA-funded elevation projects.


Dry Floodproofing – Planning and Design Considerations

April 2018

The purpose of this Recovery Advisory is to provide guidance on the design of dry floodproofing measures to reduce flood damage and limit interruption of building services.  This advisory incorporates observations made by the FEMA Mitigation Assessment Teams (MATs) in Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  It describes best design practices and successful implementation of dry floodproofing, as well as lessons learned from failures.  The information in this advisory is directed toward existing and new non-residential facilities. 

Download the Dry Floodproofing – Planning and Design Considerations.


Stay Dry: A Basic Application to View FEMA Flood Hazard Information Using Google Earth ™

September 14, 2017

The “Stay Dry” utility allows you to use Google Earth (TM) to view basic flood hazard information from FEMA’s National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) for a community or an address.  You can view flood hazard zones, cross sections and labels, community names and boundaries, Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) numbers and boundaries, and Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) case numbers and boundaries. 

To use the application, you must have Google Earth installed on your computer, a high-speed Internet connection, and the Stay Dry kmz file.  The kmz file is available through FEMA’s Map Service Center at http://msc.fema.gov

Link to the Stay_Dry_User_Guide.


Corps’ Local Flood Proofing Programs

A good overall guide on state and local funding programs, such as rebates and tax exemptions, can be found in the Corps’ Local Flood Proofing Programs.  Link here to local_flood_proofing_programs_2005 


Elevated Residential Structures – fema54

Protecting Manufactured – fema_p85

Protecting Floodplain Resources a Guidebook for Communities – fema268

Reducing Damage from Localized Flooding – A Guide for Communities – FEMA511

Protecting Building Utility Systems from Flood Damage – FEMA_P-348_508

Engineering Principles and Practices of Retrofitting Floodprone Residential Structures, FEMA 259

Storm Debris Fact Sheet from Kentucky Division of Waste Management


Protecting Building Utility Systems from Flood Damage, 2nd Edition – FEMA P-348

February 2017

The FEMA Building Science Branch is pleased to announce the release of the second edition of Protecting Building Utilities from Flood Damage, FEMA P-348. The overall objective of this updated publication is to assist in the repair, reconstruction and new construction of buildings with building utility systems and equipment that are designed and built for maximum flood resiliency.

The updated publication illustrates design and construction of utility systems that comply with the NFIP requirements for new or Substantially Improved residential and non-residential structures in flood-prone areas. It is also useful when evaluating structures for utility system upgrades or replacement, guiding users to meet floodplain management regulations and building code requirements. Even if NFIP compliance is not required, many building owners may find that applying the mitigation measures described in this publication will not only reduce future flood damage, but also facilitate faster recovery after flooding.

Key document features include:

  • Updated materials to reflect the latest versions of the International Code Council® codes and building standards;
  • Improved photographs, schematics and graphics;
  • Expanded sections to address specific mitigation measures both residential and non-residential building utility systems and equipment; and
  • Tools to assist the building owner in determining the best mitigation option for a particular building type and condition.

To download a copy of FEMA P-348 go to https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/3729.


Reducing Flood Risk to Residential Buildings That Cannot Be Elevated

September 2015

This publication presents a range of flood protection measures available as alternatives to traditional structural elevation for homeowners whose residences meet both of the following conditions:

  1. The residences are existing buildings. This publication is not intended to address construction of new buildings in floodprone areas as these structures should be sufficiently elevated and built in conformance with NFIP and local floodplain management regulations.
  2. The residences are not Substantially Damaged or Substantially Improved, meaning that the buildings have not sustained damage or undergone improvement (i.e., reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition) where the cost of the damage or improvement exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building before the damage occurred or improvement began. As with new construction, Substantially Damaged or Substantially Improved structures must be re-built in conformance with NFIP and local floodplain management regulations.

Link to the publication Reducing Flood Risk to Residential Buildings That Cannot Be Elevated.


Engineering Principles and Practices for Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures 

January 1, 2012

The third edition of Engineering Principles and Practices is intended to further aid homeowners in selecting and successfully executing a flood retrofit on their home.  Engineering design and economic guidance on what constitutes feasible and cost-effective retrofitting measures for flood-prone residential and non-residential structures are presented.  Elevation, relocation, dry floodproofing, wet floodproofing, and the use of levees and floodwalls to mitigate flood hazards are discussed.  This edition was updated to be more user-friendly and concise, the overall length of the publication has been shortened.


Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas (PAS 584) 

October 31, 2016

Subdivision Design and Flood Hazard Areas was prepared by the American Planning Association (APA) in partnership with the Association of State Floodplain Managers (ASFPM), and it was supported through a cooperative agreement with FEMA.  This report demonstrates the intersection of sustainability, resilience, and climate change in light of changing flood hazards and how these concepts play out in subdivision design.  This purpose of this report is end the cycle of build-damage-rebuild, and provide communities with sound guidance to bring subdivision design into line with the best of floodplain planning.  The report includes many best practices as well as six planning and design principles; standards for review, inspection, and maintenance; and nine recommendations to keep subdivisions safe from flooding.


Taking the Mystery Out of Flood Openings

There is a great article in the American Surveyor titled “Taking the Mystery Out of Flood Openings” by ASFPM’s Region 4 Regional Director, Terri L. Turner, AICP, CFM.  Surveyors and local floodplain officials will appreciate this useful resource that illustrates some important considerations when evaluating flood openings.  Click TheAmericanSurveyor_Turner-FloodOpenings_Vol10No6 for the article.









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