Floods and Flood Zone Information
One of the most devastating effects of a hurricane is flooding. However, flooding is not covered by most homeowners insurance policies. Many Fort Lauderdale residents live in or near a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), which is a zone where flooding may occur in the event of heavy rainfall, a hurricane or other natural disaster. As a result, residents may elect or be required to obtain flood insurance, which is available to all residents as a result of the City’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
To help residents save money on their flood insurance premiums, the City of Fort Lauderdale participates in NFIP’s voluntary Community Rating System (CRS), which recognizes communities whose efforts go beyond the NFIP’s minimum standards. As part of the CRS program, the City implements and promotes public information and floodplain management activities regarding flood hazards, flood insurance, and ways to reduce flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP offers homeowners a discount on flood insurance premiums each year, which currently reflects a 15% savings for Fort Lauderdale residents.
For more information about the National Flood Insurance Program or the Community Rating System, visit www.floodsmart.gov or www.fema.gov/business/nfip.
FEMA Flood Zone Map, Elevation Certificates and Flood Insurance Rate Map
Fort Lauderdale residents can look up their FEMA Flood Zone using the City’s online Property Information Reporter. Simply enter your property address in the appropriate fields, then click “Go.” The Property Information Reporter will provide you with extensive information about your property, including your flood zone designation.
Residents can get a copy of their property's Elevation Certificate from the Department of Sustainable Developmentent.
A FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map in PDF format can be viewed at http://www.fortlauderdale.gov/gis/files/maps/FEMA_24_36.pdf .
Local Flood Hazard
We are entering the height of hurricane season, so we would like to remind residents that although 2011 was a mild storm season, the City did experience flooding as a result of heavy rainfall in October 2011. Now is the time to prepare, if you have not already done so.
The City is located in a low, flat geographical area. It encompasses 36 square miles and is surrounded by water, which makes the City especially susceptible to flooding. The City’s water bodies consist mainly of navigable waterways and sensitive drainage basins, including the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway, Middle River, C-13 East, C-12, and the New River Canal. In the event of a hurricane, tropical depression, rainstorm, high tide, storm surge, or other natural disaster, these waterways can cause flooding.
A majority of the City's residents live in or close to a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), where flooding may occur. This means your property is in or near the SFHA, as mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and is prone to flooding. To determine your flood zone, refer to the FEMA flood zone map, also known as a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), available online or by calling (954) 828-5281.
Flood Insurance is Available
Homeowner and renter insurance policies usually do not cover flood damage. These policies typically only cover the building’s structure, not the contents. As a result, the City of Fort Lauderdale encourages residents who rent or own property in an SFHA to purchase flood insurance to protect their home and possessions against loss from flood damage. Renters can obtain insurance to cover the contents of their home, even if the owner does not insure the structure.
Flood insurance is required by law to obtain financing for most federally secured mortgages, loans, or federal grants to buy, build, or renovate a structure located in an SFHA. Contact a licensed property insurance agent for more information about flood insurance. Information is also available at www.fema.gov or www.fortlauderdale.gov.
Do not wait to get flood insurance. There is a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance Program coverage takes effect.
Flood insurance will help recover losses from flood damage, but additional precautionary measures can be taken to minimize those losses and protect yourself, your family and your property.
Before a Flood
- Make sure you are covered. Ask your insurance agent about the NFIP and flood insurance.
- Prepare a family disaster plan and a disaster supply kit.
- Know the City’s flood warning procedures and local evacuation routes.
- Know how to turn off your utilities. Contact your local utility company now if you are not sure how to do so.
- Bring outdoor belongings in and move your valuable possessions to higher ground.
- Keep materials such as sandbags, plastic or burlap bags, plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber and shovels handy for emergency waterproofing.
During a Flood
- Use a battery-operated NOAA weather radio to monitor emergency information.
- Fill containers with clean water in case drinking water becomes contaminated.
- If instructed to do so by local authorities, turn off all utilities at the main power switch, close the main gas valve and shut off propane tanks.
- If instructed to evacuate by authorities, do so immediately. Follow evacuation routes.
- Do not walk or swim in floodwaters. If you must walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to check water depths.
- Do not drive through a flooded area; turn around and find another way. Never drive around roadblocks.
- Avoid power lines and electrical wires. Electrical current can travel through water.
After a Flood
- Report downed power lines to FPL at (800) 4-OUTAGE; or call the City of Fort Lauderdale 24-Hour Customer Service Center at (954) 828-8000.
- If an evacuation ordered was issued, do not return home until authorities announce it is safe to do so.
- Use caution when entering buildings. If your property was flooded, inspect it for damages.
- Check for gas leaks. Do not smoke or use candles unless you know the gas has been turned off.
- Do not use wet appliances. Appliances can keep a charge even after unplugged.
- Take pictures of damage to your home and belongings for insurance claims.
Precautions you can take to protect your property from damage and reduce financial losses include:
- Regrading your lot (permit may be required),
- Fixing property drainage problems,
- Constructing barriers, such as a floodwall to stop floodwater from entering the building,
- Relocating electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, and washers and dryers to elevated locations,
- Installing check valves to prevent floodwater from backing up in drains,
- Installing storm shutters, impact windows, and a reinforced garage door.
- The City responds to flood protection inquiries. If you have a question regarding flood, sewer or drainage problems, contact the City of Fort Lauderdale 24-Hour Customer Service Center at (954) 828-8000.
Drainage System Maintenance
The City of Fort Lauderdale has a system of natural and man-made drainage features that manage local water flow and stormwater runoff. These features include rivers, canals, storm drains, catch basins, pump stations and swales. The local canals and rivers help prevent flooding, as well as recharge the well fields that supply the City’s drinking water.
The City’s storm drain system carries water from rain, hoses and sprinklers to our waterways. This water picks up pollutants such as debris, cigarette butts, motor oil, yard and pet waste, and pesticides that contribute to stormwater pollution. Stormwater is untreated water, which means, whatever flows into a storm drain exits to the waterways.
Residents can help prevent flooding and stormwater pollution by:
- Keeping pollutants or chemicals out of the storm drains,
- Keeping swales, yards and other surfaces clear of debris so that water can drain into the soil rather than running off and causing flooding,
- Removing debris from nearby storm drains so water may flow freely into them,
- Landscaping with native, drought-friendly plants that absorb water and require little or no fertilizer.
State law prohibits dumping anything into the storm drain system and unauthorized obstructions or alterations of the drainage features. Residents should report illegal dumping into the stormwater system or clogged storm drains by calling the City of Fort Lauderdale 24-hour Customer Service Center at (954) 828-8000.
Floodplain Development and Permit Requirements
The City of Fort Lauderdale has adopted development regulations in flood zones to control the alteration of the natural floodplains; prevent or regulate the construction of flood barriers that will unnaturally divert flood waters or may increase flood hazards in other areas; restrict or prohibit uses that may result in increases in erosion, flood heights, or velocities; and to control filling, grading, dredging, and other development in a flood zone that may increase flood damages.
The City currently regulates all development (not just construction of buildings) within natural floodplains through the plan review process, which requires building and/or engineering permits prior to construction, filling, or otherwise altering a site’s natural elevation.
Prior to starting any construction, residents or builders should contact the City’s Department of Sustainable Development at (954) 828-6520 to ask about required permits.
If you witness illegal floodplain development, such as filling or building in the floodplain without a permit posted, please call the Building Services Center at (954) 828-6520 to report it.
The Flood Warning System
The City of Fort Lauderdale, located in Broward County, depends on the National Weather Service (NWS) for flood warning and other weather-related notifications.
The NWS will issue a Flash Flood Warning for Broward County, or parts of the county, when floodwaters are forecast to enter buildings and pose a threat to life and/or property within six hours. Normally, the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will be activated.
An Urban Flood Advisory will be issued when flooding to urban streets, underpasses and/or low-lying areas is occurring or is probable and is not expected to threaten life or property.
The NWS will issue a Coastal Flood Watch when coastal flooding is possible within 12 to 36 hours. A Coastal Flood Warning will be issued when coastal flooding is occurring or is expected to occur within 12 hours.
Residents should monitor the following local radio and TV stations for flood warning and evacuation information: Radio: WIOD 610 AM, or WFTL 850 AM; TV: Channel 4 (CBS); Channel 6 (NBC); Channel 7 (FOX); or Channel 10 (ABC).
Residents may also monitor City of Fort Lauderdale information via Cable Channel 78, 1610 AM radio, and www.fortlauderdale.gov.
Depending on the type and severity of expected flooding, residents may be advised through the news media or drive-by notifications from first responders to either shelter- in-place or evacuate. Residents should utilize one of the evacuation routes identified in their family disaster plans.
Natural and Beneficial Functions
Florida state regulations protect natural areas that reduce the risks associated with flooding. When floodplains are preserved or restored to their natural state, they provide many benefits to our residents and the surrounding eco-systems.
Floodplains do more than enhance our natural surroundings; they absorb rain and floodwater, reduce the number and severity of floods, and manage stormwater runoff, which minimizes water pollution. Fort Lauderdale is careful to protect its local floodplains, such as the New River, Middle River, and North Fork of the New River. These areas are home to native pond apples, leather ferns, mangroves, cypress stands, and other deep-rooted native plants that provide natural cover and filter out pollutants and chemicals from the water, which helps decrease flood velocity and protect water quality.
Substantial Improvement and Damage Requirements
If the cost of reconstructing, rehabilitating, expanding, or making other improvements to a flood-damaged building equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s market value, the NFIP requires the building to meet the same construction and code requirements as a new building. Substantially damaged buildings must also meet the same standards.
If a building or part of a building sustained 50% damage or decay, (as determined by the Building Official using the valuation criteria set forth in the Florida Building Code), or deteriorated from its original value or structure, it shall be demolished. In cases where a building cannot be repaired and brought up to code, it shall be demolished.
Flood Information Brochures
The City of Fort Lauderdale has created several resources to advise residents of the local flood hazard and raise awareness of measures residents can take to property themselves, their families and their property in the event of a flood in our area. Please download the following publications for more information:
FEMA Flood Zone Designations
Listed below are the FEMA descriptions for Flood Zone Designations that apply to the City of Fort Lauderdale:
- Zone A
Zone A is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the one-percent annual chance floodplains that are determined in the Flood Insurance Study by approximate methods of analysis. Because detailed hydraulic analyses are not performed for such areas, no Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
- Zone AE and A1-A30
Zones AE and A1-A30 are the flood insurance rate zones that correspond to the one-percent annual chance floodplains that are determined in the Flood Insurance Study by detailed methods of analysis. In most instances, Base Flood Elevations derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
- Zone AH
Zone AH is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the areas of one-percent annual chance shallow flooding with a constant water-surface elevation (usually areas of ponding) where average depths are between 1 and 3 feet. The Base Flood Elevations derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
- Zone AO
Zone AO is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to the areas of one-percent shallow flooding (usually sheet flow on sloping terrain) where average depths are between 1 and 3 feet. Average flood depths derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown within this zone. In addition, alluvial fan flood hazards are shown as Zone AO on the Flood Insurance Rate Map. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
- Zone VE
Zone VE is the flood insurance rate zone that corresponds to areas within the one-percent annual chance coastal floodplain that have additional hazards associated with storm waves. Base Flood Elevations derived from the detailed hydraulic analyses are shown at selected intervals within this zone. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply.
- Zones B, C, and X
Zones B, C, and X are the flood insurance rate zones that correspond to areas outside the one-percent annual chance floodplain, areas of one-percent annual chance sheet flow flooding where average depths are less than 1 foot, areas of one-percent annual chance stream flooding where the contributing drainage area is less than 1 square mile, or areas protected from the one-percent annual chance flood by levees. No Base Flood Elevations or depths are shown within this zone. Insurance purchase is not required in these zones.
For more information about flood zone designations, visit http://www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/floodplain/nfipkeywords/flood_zones.shtm or call the City of Fort Lauderdale Department of Sustainable Development at 954-828-5203.
In 2004, the City of Fort Lauderdale adopted the Broward County Location Mitigation Strategy (LMS). The City of Fort Lauderdale was involved in the initial preparation of this plan and continues to sit on the Local Mitigation Strategy Working Group and Planning Committee to monitor progress, make updates, and revise the plan. The LMS serves as the Floodplain Management Plan for the City of Fort Lauderdale for the purpose of the Community Rating System.
The Fort Lauderdale tide table for the current month is available online at http://www.tides4fishing.com/us/florida-east-coast/south-port-everglades.
In the event that your property suffers flood damage, you may need to hire a contractor to make repairs. As a convenience to customers, the City of Fort Lauderdale is pleased to provide a list of area contractors. Please note that this list does not serve as an endorsement or referral of any kind. The contractor selected to conduct repairs is solely the decision and responsibility of the property owner.
Whether your are making storm repairs or home improvements, it is important to hire a licensed contractor. See the following information for tips on choosing a contractor: