National Flood Insurance Program

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a component of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) which has three basic functions:

  • Flood Insurance
    When a city becomes a member of the NFIP, it makes citizens, business owners and the city eligible to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance can then be purchased through the NFIP or through a private insurance company or agent.
  • Floodplain Management
    Floodplain management includes the adoption of corrective and preventative measures for reducing flood damage. These measures take a variety of forms and generally include requirements for zoning, subdivision or building and special-purpose floodplain ordinances.
  • Flood Hazard Mapping
    FEMA maintains and updates the NFIP maps. These maps determine where the 100 year and 500 year flood plains are located within their cities which therefore help them to administrate floodplain ordinances.

Although on a federal level participation in the NFIP is optional, Iowa law requires that all cities with flood hazard areas within their boundaries participate in the NFIP. Cities without flood hazard areas are not required to enter into the program. FEMA provides a list of all municipalities that have flood hazard areas within their boundaries and whether or not that municipality is currently participating in the NFIP.

Membership in the NFIP allows citizens, business owners and the city to become eligible to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance can then be purchased through the NFIP or through a private insurance company or agent at a reduced rate because the city is a member of the NFIP. Membership also allows the city to become more aware of potential flooding in their city and to help protect their citizens, businesses and the city itself from potential damages resulting from flooding. Finally, membership provides access to a variety of other hazard mitigation and post-disaster resources through the state and federal government.

If a city is located within a flood hazard area and does not join the program and follow the terms of the program within the time allowed and that city is flooded, the city is no longer eligible to receive state financial assistance for their flood-related damages, as provided under Code of Iowa Section 29C.6.

A city may join the NFIP by submitting an Application for Participation with FEMA. The city council should approve a Resolution of Intent, which FEMA describes as an indication to “participate in the NFIP and commitment to recognize flood hazards and carry out the objectives of the Program.”

Cities in the program must also consider any changes that will be needed to current zoning laws or city ordinances to ensure they comply with the provisions of the NFIP. There should also be a plan to enforce any new ordinances that may affect existing or new buildings. Finally, city facilities located within the flood plain could require the city to make modifications and to purchase flood insurance for those buildings.

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