Hurricane & Flood Preparedness
Flood Protection Information
Flooding is an act of nature which respects no boundary lines, either community or personal. Floodwater can cover many blocks with water depths up to four or five feet and can come with little warning. Flooding in the City of Palm Coast may be caused by two sources: the Intracoastal Waterway overflowing its banks during severe storms and/or high tide and by an unexpected downpour of rain such as we experienced in 1994 during Hurricane Gordon.
Your property may have been high enough so that it was not flooded during Hurricane Gordon but it can still be flooded in the future because the next storm could be worse.
Flood maps and flood protection references are available at the Flagler County Public Library in Palm Coast. You can also visit the Community Development Department at City Offices to see where your property is located with respect to the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). You may also visit FEMA's website www.fema.gov/hazard/flood/info.shtm for mapping information and create a FIRMette map of your property. We also have information regarding flood zone elevation, minimum elevations required for new construction and handouts for selecting a contractor for flood damage repairs.
If requested, the Stormwater and Engineering Department will visit your property to review its flood problems and explain ways to stop flooding or prevent flood damage.
Flood Warning System
The City has an agreement with Flagler County and other municipalities that addresses the need for coordination of the emergency management plans of all communities and for prompt dissemination of information concerning storms and flooding.
Local television and radio stations also provide information as they have representatives on the emergency response teams who are located at command centers during emergencies. The Official Emergency Public Information for local television channels and radio stations are as follow:
- Channel 2 – Orlando WESH – NBC
- Channel 6 – Orlando WKMG – CBS
- Channel 9 – Orlando WFTV – ABC
- Channel 35 – Orlando WOFH – FOX
- Channel 13 – Orlando – Brighthouse
- Black Crow Broadcasting Stations Network, WNDB 1150 AM, WHOG 95.7 FM, WKRO 93.1 FM, and WVYB 103.3 FM
- WNZF 1550 AM/106.3 FM
- Beach 92.7 FM
If you do not have flood insurance, contact your insurance agent, as homeowner's insurance policies do not normally cover damage from floods. However, since the City of Palm Coast participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you may be able to purchase a separate flood insurance policy at a reduced rate. The voluntary actions undertaken by the City of Palm Coast, exceeding the minimum standards, rewarded the community a 20% discount for various NFIP policies issued or renewed in the "Special Flood Hazard Areas" (areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding) on or after May 1, 2009. (It should be noted that there are no discounts for reduced rate Preferred Risk Policies which are available for eligible B, C, and X zone properties as the rates for these zones already reflect significant premium reductions.) This type of insurance is backed by the Federal Government and is available to everyone, even if your property has never been flooded or is not in a special flood hazard area. Homeowners may also want to include your house contents, as most policies do not cover the contents such as furniture. Renters should buy flood insurance for their contents.
The City of Palm Coast has a Community Identification Number (CID) 120684 so insurance companies can identify properties within the City and apply the applicable discounts. It is possible that properties within the City are using the Flagler County CID and are not getting the benefits provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) for the City of Palm Coast. Please call your insurance company who is providing flood insurance and inquire about the Community Identification Number (CID) for your policy.
There is a 30-day waiting period after you purchase a flood policy before coverage is in effect.
For more information please contact the City of Palm Coast, Constance Bentley, Certified Floodplain Manager, at (386) 986-2655.
Before the Storm
If your home is well constructed, and local authorities have not called for evacuation, stay home and make emergency preparations. If told to evacuate, follow all instructions from local authorities and follow safe evacuation routes to shelter. Your personal evacuation plan should provide for your pets, your personal emergency supplies (food, medicine, first aid kit, battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, etc.) and insurance papers. When evacuating, take property identification and important personal papers and documents with you.
During and After the Storm
If you are in a public shelter, remain there until informed by those in charge that it is safe to leave and return home. Oftentimes, people are injured immediately after a storm due to unsafe buildings, downed power lines, contaminated water, moving debris and other dangerous conditions. Carefully check for structural damage prior to entering a building after a storm. Use caution when entering the structure, turn electricity on one breaker at a time and watch for smoke or sparks. Report broken sewer and water lines to the Utility Department at (386) 986-2360.
Also, during a flood, the following safety measures should be taken to prevent further personal and property damage:
- DO NOT WALK THROUGH FLOWING WATER. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths. Six inches of water can knock you off of your feet. If you must walk in standing or flowing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.
- DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH FLOODED AREAS. Many people drown in their cars. Don't drive around road barriers; the road may be washed out.
- STAY AWAY FROM POWER LINES AND ELECTRICAL WIRES. The second flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to FPL or the City Public Works Department (386) 986-2360.
- HAVE YOUR ELECTRICITY TURNED OFF BY THE POWER COMPANY. Some appliances, such as television sets, keep electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Don't use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
- LOOK OUT FOR SMALL ANIMALS, ESPECIALLY SNAKES. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over to scare away small animals and snakes.
- LOOK BEFORE YOU STEP. After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be slippery.
- BE ALERT FOR GAS LEAKS. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Never smoke or use candles, lanterns, matches or open flames unless you know the gas has been properly turned off and the entire area has been ventilated.
- CARBON MONOXIDE EXHAUST KILLS. Use a generator or other gasoline-powered equipment outdoors. The same goes for cooking stoves. Charcoal fumes are especially deadly and should be outdoors.
- CLEAN EVERYTHING THAT GOT WET. Flood waters have picked up sewage and chemicals from roads, commercial properties and storage buildings. Spoiled food, flooded cosmetics, and medicines can be health hazards. When in doubt, throw it out.
There are several ways to protect your building from flood damage. One way is to keep the water away by regrading your lot or by constructing a small floodwall or earthen berm. These methods work if your lot is large enough, if flooding is not too deep and if your property is not in the floodway. Approval from the City Engineer must be obtained for this work.
You can make your walls waterproof and place watertight closures under the doorways. This method is not recommended for houses with basements or if water will get over two feet deep.
Another approach is "wet floodproofing" or retrofitting to modify the structure and relocate the contents so that when floodwaters enter the building there is little or no damage.
The Building Department and the Flagler County Public Library have information available regarding flood protection.
Permits and Substantial Improvement Requirements
Always contact the City Building Department before you alter, regrade, fill, or build on your property. A permit is needed to ensure that projects do not cause flooding problems on your property or anyone else's property. New buildings in the floodplain must be protected from flood damage. The Land Development Code requires that new buildings within the special flood hazard areas be elevated at least one foot above the base flood elevation.
Substantial improvements include any combination of repairs, reconstruction, alteration, addition or other improvement of a structure, taking place ten (10) years from the date of such action in which the cumulative cost equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the "start of construction" of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred "substantial damage" regardless of the actual repair work performed accumulative over a ten-year period. Substantially improved structures are considered new construction and must meet current requirements of the local flood damage protection ordinance.
Drainage System Maintenance
The City of Palm Coast makes inspections, maintains all ditches and canals in the City and has maintenance contracts in effect for aquatic weed control. The Engineering/Stormwater Department inspects and maintains all swales.
You can help the City with its drainage system maintenance program by following these measures:
- Do not dump or throw anything into the ditches or canals. Dumping in our ditches or canals is a violation of City Ordinances. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and block stormwater flow. A plugged ditch or canal cannot carry water and when it rains the water needs to go somewhere. Every piece of trash contributes to flooding.
- Keep everything out of storm drains except for rainwater runoff. Do not put anything down a storm drain that you would not want to drink or swim in.
- If your property is next to a ditch or canal, please do your part and keep the banks clear of brush or debris. The City has a ditch and canal maintenance program which can help remove major blockages such as downed trees.
- Check downspouts to ensure they are draining away from the house.
- If you see dumping or debris in the ditches or canals, contact the Public Works Department at (386) 986-2360.
Natural and Beneficial Functions
Floodplains provide for the natural moderation of floods, the maintenance of water quality and the recharge of groundwaters. They support large and diverse populations of plants and animals. The wetland areas of floodplains are biologically productive because they contain certain aquatic habitats and provide vital breeding grounds for fish and wildlife. Floodplains contain cultural resources including archeological and historical sites, unique habitats for ecological study, open space and recreation opportunities. Aesthetic and other tangible attributes of floodplains have important social and economic values. Under natural conditions, a flood causes little or no damage. Nature ensures that floodplain flora and fauna can survive the more frequent inundations.
Several stormwater retention areas have been installed throughout the City which draw stormwater from the adjacent subdivisions and store it until absorbed back into the ground. Big Mulberry Branch in Palm Coast is one such area, handling stormwater from the western portion of the City as it discharges into the existing canal system and College Waterway. The City has acquired 39 Single Family Residential (SFR) vacant lots adjacent to Big Mulberry Branch to ensure upstream flooding will not occur in the future due to development.
The City of Palm Coast's involvement in floodplain management can modify susceptibility to flood damage and guide development in a manner that takes into account flood hazards and the natural characteristics of the floodplain. Preparedness plans and programs provide for pre-disaster mitigation, warning and emergency operations. Training at all levels, public information activities and readiness evaluations are all tools available.
As a public service, the City of Palm Coast will provide you with the following upon request:
- Whether a property is in or out of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as shown on the current Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) of the City. The current FIRM became effective on July 17, 2006.
- Additional flood insurance data for a site, such as the FIRM zone, panel number, community identification number (CID) and the base flood elevation or depth, if shown on the FIRM.
- Various Floodplain Management handouts to include handouts on the flood insurance purchase requirement that can help people who need a mortgage or loan for a property in the SFHA.
- Floodplain Management information on the City website www.palmcoastgov.com
- Copies of completed Elevation Certificates for most structures in the special flood hazard area constructed after 2003
- Flood protection assistance
- Certified Floodplain Managers available upon request to answer questions and provide information. They can be available for Floodplain Management presentations or guest speaking to local groups, schools or organizations by appointment.
FEMA has a Map Service Center at www.fema.gov where you can view and purchase the FIRMs, and create "FIRMettes". A FIRMette is a full-scale section of a FEMA FIRM that you create yourself online and are formatted to fit on printers commonly found in offices. The FIRM is also available for your view at the City Offices and the Flagler County Public Library.