Flood Control Zone District
National Flood Insurance Program
Congress initiated the National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP) in 1968, 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
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.
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.
This 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.