Massachusetts is susceptible to many flooding events including coastal flooding from "Nor'easters" and hurricanes, riverine flooding from heavy precipitation, ice jams, and snow melt, and urban flooding from poor or insufficient stormwater drainage. For a detailed summary of historical flooding events and general flood risk in Massachusetts, please see the State Hazard Mitigation Plan located at the planning section of the Hazard Mitigation website.
Although the ability to forecast the conditions that lead to flooding has improved, homeowners are frequently caught off guard and unprepared for the often devastating effects of a flood. It is important to know what your flood risk is and to have an appropriate plan in place for your family, home or business. To find out more about what you can do to prepare for a flood (and other hazards) visit MEMA's Floods webpage. If you live in a coastal community, the Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards file size 12MB has tips for flooding and other coastal hazards.
Recovering from a flood is very often a stressful, difficult and confusing process.
Valuables and keepsakes are lost, homes are damaged or destroyed, businesses are interrupted and families are displaced. During this difficult time you may have to file a flood insurance claim or apply for federal disaster assistance. For more information on recovering from a flood, including tips on mold removal and restoration of flood damaged items, see the "After a Flood" section of MEMA's Floods webpage.
REPAIRING YOUR HOME
People whose homes and businesses are damaged by flood are understandably eager to make repairs and return to "life as normal" as quickly as possible. While it is important for people to return to their lives quickly, it is crucial that the repair process is done in accordance with local, state and federal regulations designed to ensure building safety and reduce future flood impacts.
The first step in this process is to visit your local Building Official to obtain a repair permit and to discuss the extent of your damages. The Building Official will be assessing the cost of repairs to your home or business in order to establish whether or not it has been substantially damaged and if repairs will constitute a substantial improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred "Substantial damage", regardless of the actual repair work performed. Substantially damaged buildings currently located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) that were built prior to the community's participation in the National Flood Insurance Program or noncompliant with the elevation requirements of the Massachusetts State Building Code must be brought into compliance with all local, state and federal requirements for new construction in flood hazard areas. Most often this will involve elevating a home or dry floodproofing a nonresidential building. For specific information on substantial damage and improvement requirements speak with your local building official. Additional information can be found in FEMA Publication 213, "Answers to Questions about Substantially Damaged Buildings".
Many flood insurance policy holders are unaware that their policy may provide up to $30,000 in additional funds to assist in covering the cost of compliance with local, state and federal requirements. "ICC" or the "Increased Cost of Compliance" is available as a part of most flood insurance policies and may be used with the following four types of activities: elevation, relocation, demolition and floodproofing. Additional financial assistance may be available through one of several FEMA mitigation grants. Please visit our Hazard Mitigation page for more information on FEMA mitigation grant programs.
FEMA NFIP Claims Handbook: http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=2184
FEMA Disaster Assistance Page: http://www.disasterassistance.gov/
FEMA Answers to Questions about Substantially Damaged Buildings: http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=1636
FEMA Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage (ICC): http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program-2/increased-cost-compliance-coverage