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National Flood Insurance Program

Flood Control Zone District
National Flood Insurance Program

Congress initiated the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in Flooding of homes1968, with additions in 1973, to make affordable flood insurance available to citizens of communities that adopt approved flood management regulations.  The Federal Insurance Administration (FIA), part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), administers the NFIP.  Flood insurance is not available to constituents within communities that choose not to participate in the NFIP.  In addition, participation in the NFIP is required to be eligible for most state and federal disaster assistance available after flood events.

NFIP eligibility criteria require local development restrictions for flood-prone areas.  In Whatcom County, the federal guidelines are established as local law through each community within the county.  Whatcom County adopted a Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance, Title 17, which sets development restrictions for floodplain areas in unincorporated areas of the county.  Small cities within Whatcom County and the Lummi Nation also administer their own NFIP programs.

Public Works River and Flood Division staff performs the flood review and develops permit conditions for all development proposals within the floodplain.  Building and development permit applications processed by the Planning and Development Services Department (PDS) are routed to River and Flood staff during the permitting process.  The final permit issued by PDS incorporates conditions required to comply with Title 17.

Erosion caused by floodingThis program area also includes activities related to the county'ss participation in the Community Rating System (CRS) program administered by FEMA.  Participation in the CRS program enables constituents within Whatcom County unincorporated areas to obtain reduced flood insurance rates.  FEMA has developed a system to rate the activities implemented by a community to reduce future flood damages.  These activities include public education efforts, land use zoning for floodplain areas, stormwater management, maintenance of drainage systems, early flood warning, and flood hazard reduction projects.

Currently Whatcom County's rating has improved allowing county residents a 15% reduction in flood insurance premiums.