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Wednesday
Jun132018

Flood Insurance

Your homeowners insurance doesn't cover floods ...Federal flood insurance does.

Floods can happen anytime, anywhere in Hawai‘i County. They can be even more devastating when victims realize the flood damage isn’t covered under their homeowners’ insurance policy.

Flooding causes more damage in the United States than any other severe weather related event, an average of $4.6 billion a year from 1984-2003.   There is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage. You’re also five times more likely to experience flooding than fire–and most people have fire insurance! Know your risk!

Federal disaster assistance isn’t the answer. In most cases, the only aid disaster victims may qualify for is a loan, and that must be repaid—with interest!

Only Federal flood insurance reimburses you for flood damage to your property!

With one annual premium, you can protect your most important investment—your home—and your finances. Call your insurance agent or company today. Ask about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  Also ask about NFIP's content coverage. Don’t wait until it starts to rain, because there is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect.

FEMA manages the NFIP, which makes federally backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce flood damage.

Hawai‘i County participates in the NFIP, which makes flood insurance available to all residents and businesses.

The NFIP provides flood insurance to people who live in areas with the greatest risk of flooding, called Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). If your property is located within an SFHA you are required to purchase flood insurance as a condition of receiving a federally regulated mortgage loan. Check flood hazards before you buy. Your lender should notify you if your property is located in an SFHA and National Flood Insurance is required. If you are building in an SFHA, see Build with Flooding in Mind.

The NFIP provides up to $250,000 coverage for single-family residential buildings and up to $100,000 coverage for contents. Other residential and commercial property owners can also obtain flood insurance. Flood insurance provides coverage that most homeowners policies don’t—coverage for damage to buildings and contents from flooding, flood-related erosion, and flood-caused mudslides. This coverage from the NFIP is an asset to you as a home or business owner. It reimburses you for covered financial losses from flood damage.

For a modest annual premium, you can have peace of mind that you will be paid for your eligible losses. The average annual premium for flood insurance is around $400 per year. Compare that to disaster loan payments that, with interest, could amount to over $300 per month!

There’s no better way to save for a rainy day!

To learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program and flood insurance, call 1-800-427-4661 or contact your insurance company or agent.

If you don’t have an agent, call 1-888-435-6637 for an agent referral (TDD 1-800-427-5593).

Wednesday
Jun132018

FEDERAL FLOOD INSURANCE

For Lenders, Realtors, and Insurance Agents

We are reminding insurance agents, realtors, lenders, and the general public about the flood-related information, resources and services provided by the County’s Floodplain Management Program. We can assist with checking a property’s flood zone designation, additional flood insurance data or completed Elevation Certificates (ECs).

Looking for a property’s flood zone designation? For unofficial purposes, use the online Hawai‘i Flood Hazard Assessment Tool on the State of Hawai‘i, dept of Land and Natural Resources site. For official purposes, please call the County’s Floodplain Management Program, 808-961-8327.

Floodplain Management can also help with other information or services you may need for a property, such as:

  • Find out if whether a property is in the Flood Hazard Area (FHA) as shown on FEMA’s current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Hawai‘i County;
  • Request the Floodplain Management Program  visit a property to review its flood problem and explain ways to stop flooding or prevent flood damage.
  • Get FIRM updates;

  • Explain FEMA's 90-day Appeals process;

  • Check additional flood insurance data for a site, such as the FIRM zone and the base flood elevation or depth, if shown on the FIRM;

  • Review completed Elevation Certificates(EC);

  • Request training on the NFIP, elevation certificates, repetitive loss, the building permit process as it applies to the NFIP, flood-proofing and other flood-related topics;
  • Explain the most recent flood studies underway;

Pick up or download County and FEMA publications including:

  • Check Flood Hazards Before You Buy  (at the Department of Public Works’ Engineering Division), in Hilo and Kona.
  • Building Permits and Inspections (at the County’s Building Division);or,
  • Download publications from the FEMA website.  This Web site also enables you to link to FEMA flood-related publications, DFIRM information adn the National Flood Insurance Program, and also has information on how to building with flooding in mind and the County permit and inspections requirements as well as general flood preparedness reminders and resources.
Wednesday
Jun132018

Drainage Systems

Drainage systems are watercourses such as rivers, streams, channels and other topographic features over which waters flow periodically. Drainage and flood problems may be caused when debris or overgrown streambed vegetation accumulates and clogs waterways, or when the capabilities of existing drainage systems are exceeded during heavy rains. Ki‘ilae Stream (above) in Hōnaunau, South Kona, is shown clogged with vegetation.

When water damages property, disputes rise among neighbors which could lead to mediation or court .  The article, “Neighbor Disputes Over Water,” produced by Nolo discusses the murky legal issues around these disputes. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/neighbor-disputes-over-water-damage-29724.html

In 1970, the County of Hawai‘i Department of Public Works adopted the Storm Drainage Standards for the design and development of storm drainage facilities. The department administers the County’s drainage system management according to Chapter 27 of the Hawai‘i County Code (see Chapter 27, "Enforcement," Sections 27-32 through 27-38) and the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes 46-11.5. This includes the enforcement of drainage system maintenance to assure that drainageways, floodways, stream beds and banks, channels—whether natural or artificial—and watercourses are free of debris and obstructions.

The Department also administers and enforces standards for construction and improvements adjacent to drainage facilities. It provides flood control and erosion mitigation on all developed properties through its grubbing and grading ordinances as directed in Chapter 10 of the Hawai‘i County Code. For agricultural operations, landowners and lessees are encouraged to work with the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service  in developing and implementing soil and water conservation plans.

Keep waterways flowing!

It is illegal to dump debris into waterways. It is also an owner’s responsibility to keep waterways on their property free of debris, vegetation or obstructions.

Report debris or obstructions in drainage systems to the Department of Public Works Highways Maintenance Division, 808-961-8349.

Wednesday
Jun132018

Reducing Flood Damage

The Hawaiʻi County Floodplain Management program works to reduce flood damage and assure the safety of our residents and visitors through compliance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Since 1971, much progress has been made in alleviating flood and drainage problems and establishing floodplain regulation in Hawaiʻi County.  Our rivers, streams, watersheds and floodplains are dynamic and complex natural systems. FEMA has concluded that by adapting to a watercourse's natural function rather than trying to control floodwaters we improve our ability to reduce the loss of life and property.

When flooding does result in public or private losses, federal flood insurance is available because the County of Hawaiʻi participates in the NFIP, which enables residents and businesses to purchase flood insurance at relatively inexpensive rates.

The County’s Floodplain Management program is directed by Chapter 27 of the Hawaiʻi County Code (HCC) and reflects FEMA regulations in Title 44, specifically Parts 59 and 60. The HCC Chapter 27 also incorporates the updated 2004 Flood Insurance Study, which is available from the Department of Public Works.

The Flood Insurance Study for Hawaiʻi County details the severity of flood hazards and identifies critical floodplain areas. The flood boundaries for streams and the flood insurance zones and base flood elevation lines are delineated on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). These maps are the result of the Flood Insurance Study and have been incorporated into Hawaiʻi County's Floodplain Management program.

The County’s Floodplain Management program serves to promote public health, safety and general welfare; minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions.  The HCC Chapter 27 works in concert with HCC Chapter 23  for subdivisions, HCC Chapter 5 for building, and HCC Chapter 10 for erosion and sediment control related to grubbing and grading.

Policies and standards of the County’s Floodplain Management program are outlined in the County of Hawaiʻi General Plan, under “Flooding and Other Natural Hazards".  Additionally, preventive land use measures, warning systems and public education, flood control structural projects, repetitive loss buyout programs, and natural resource protection programs are outlined in the Hawaiʻi County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan.  The plan’s goal is to minimize losses through controlled development and the retrofitting of existing structures within hazard areas.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, also provides conservation programs to reduce and control surface water and sediment runoff for individual agricultural and conservation landholders.

For additional information about the County’s floodplain management program, contact the Floodplain Manager in the Public Works Department, 808-961-8042

Wednesday
Jun132018

KNOW YOUR RISK AND THE WARNINGS

Know your risk.

What's your flood zone?

Everyone in Hawaiʻi County lives in a flood zone.

Flood zones are geographic areas defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) according to the level of flood risk. Flood zones indicate areas of low, moderate and high flood risk. In low and moderate risk zones flooding can still occur—the risk is reduced but not removed.

How is your flood risk determined?

Flood history is one element. Determinations are also based on rainfall and river-flow data, topography, tidal surge, flood control measures, and existing and planned development. The Hawaiʻi County Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) shows flood zones around the island. Each zone reflects the severity or type of flooding in the area.

Finding and understanding your flood zone

  • The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) One-step Flood Risk Profile helps you rate your risk, estimate flood insurance premiums and find a flood insurance agent. For more information, contact NFIP, 1-888-379-9531.
  • Find your flood risk electronically using the Hawaiʻi Flood Hazard Assessment Tool.
  • If you are renting, it is wise to insure your contents Renter's Insurance.com.
  • FEMA’s Information for Homeowners provides references and links to assist homeowners in locating and obtaining copies of their perspective floodmaps, how to read them, and how to request map changes that may be warranted.
  • To request flood zone information from Hawaiʻi County, complete the "Flood Zone Designation Form."

Do you need flood insurance?

If you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) - an area with an high-risk for flooding - and have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender, you are required to purchase a flood insurance policy.

To remove the property or structure from the SFHA zone, complete the electronic Letter of Map Amendment (PDF).

For single family residential lot or structure amendments download the MT-EZ application.

For multiple lot and multiple structures download the MT-1 forms.

To appeal or protest a NFIP map, download the Appeals and Protests to NFIP Maps guide.

Every homeowner, business owner and renter in a high-risk area is at risk for flooding and should be protected with flood insurance whether or not their lender requires it. During the term of a 30-year mortgage, there is a 26 percent chance that a home in a high-risk area will experience flooding. If you live in a low-to moderate-risk area, flood insurance is still a vital investment to ensure that you have protection against flooding. 

Because the County participates in the NFIP, federal flood insurance is available to all County residents and businesses. It is important to understand your flood risks when deciding to purchase flood insurance. Using flood hazard maps, your insurance agent can help you determine your risk level and provide you with the flood insurance coverage that is right for you.

Building and developing in flood zones

Based on the floods zones, the County designates where and how new structures and developments will be built. All development (not just the construction of buildings) in designated floodplains requires County permits, and building construction may also require elevation certificates. Obtain the necessary building permits from the Building Division and follow the Hawaiʻi County General Plan, Hawaiʻi County Code and ordinances when building or maintaining property.

For additional information on Hawaiʻi County Floodplain Management and floodplain development, see the Hawaiʻi County Code, Chapter 27, Section 27-18.

Know the warnings.

Not all floods are alike.

If it has been raining hard for several hours or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood. 

Flash floods can happen quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain in your area. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path. Be aware of streams, gulches, drainage channels, and other areas that appear harmless in dry weather. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

Be alert to signs of flooding

  • If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Real-time river gage data is available for the Waikoloa, Alakahi, Kawai Nui and Honoliʻi streams, Wailuku River, and Pāʻauʻau Gulch.
  • Listen for and respond to watches and warnings issued by the National Weather Service, the State Emergency Alert System (PDF) and the Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense Agency.
  • Civil Defense transmits warnings to the public through the Emergency Alert System's simultaneous broadcasts over all radio and television stations.
  • Sirens are activated to alert people to seek further information from the radio or TV stations.
  • Civil Defense operates a mass notification email and text messaging system. Use the link under "GET UPDATES" to register.

Know your flood watches and warnings

When a Flood Watch or Flash Flood Watch is issued

Flooding or a flash flood is possible.

Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio (KBA99 on 162.550 & 162.400 MHz or WWG27 on 162.550 MHz), the State Emergency Alert System or Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense messages on AM, FM or TV broadcast stations for information.

  • Be ready to act if a warning is issued or flooding occurs. Floods can happen quickly and without warning.
  • Review your flood preparedness plans and evacuation routes. If you live in a flood-prone area, be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice and follow the instructions and advice of local officials.
  • Take steps to protect your home and your valuables.
  • Know how to safely shut off utilities.
  • Consider precautionary evacuation of your animals.