Managing Floodplain Development Through The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
The land mass that is now called Florida exists because of the mere washing of waves and is continuously shaped by the forces of water, either eroded or built up through deposit of sediment. Being located on the Atlantic coast, Martin County's landmass is dominated by its floodplain landscapes and floods have continuiously altered its floodplain landscape.
Most recently, Martin County's landscape has been altered by human development, affecting both the immediate floodplain and events downstream. People have always been attracted to bodies of water as places for living, industry, commerce and recreation. During the early settlement of Martin County, locations near water provided necessary access to transportation and a water supply. In addition, these areas had fertile soils, making them prime agricultural lands. This pattern of development continued as Martin County grew.
In recent decades, development along waterways and shorelines has been spurred by the aesthetic and recreational value of these sites. The result has been an increasing level of damage and destruction wrought by the natural forces of flooding on human development. It is probable that you have experienced some of this. You or someone you know may have suffered through a flood and a long, painful and expensive repair and recovery process. Mitigating such exposure is the purpose of managed floodplain development.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
According to federal mandate, responsibility for flood loss reduction is shared by all units of government — local, state, federal, and the private sector. Fulfilling this responsibility depends on having the knowledge and skills to plan and implement needed floodplain management measures. The fundamental floodplain management program that most others are built on is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The NFIP provides the maps and regulatory basis for local floodplain management.
It is also the primary source of insurance protection for flood prone properties. Its success depends on the people responsible for administering its mapping, regulatory and insurance aspects.
Floodplain Development Permit Requirements
Martin County, Florida has adopted regulations on development in flood zones to control the alteration of the natural floodplains; prevent or regulate the construction of flood barriers which will unnaturally divert flood waters or increase flood hazards in other areas; restrict or prohibit uses which may result in damaging increases in erosion or in flood heights or velocities; and to control filling, grading, dredging, and other development which may increase flood damages.
Martin County currently regulates development of major projects within the natural flood plains through the development review process. On smaller projects proposed within the natural flood plains, building and/or engineering permits are required prior to construction, filling, or otherwise altering natural elevations. Prior to considering any site development or construction work, it is recommended that either the Building Department or the Development Review Division be contacted so that the applicable process may be defined and the appropriate permits may be secured. Elevation certificates are required as part of the permitting process for all newly constructed or substantially improved buildings in the Special Flood Hazard Areas of Martin County. A substantial improvement is defined as any repair, reconstruction, or improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty percent (50%) of the market value of the structure before the repair is started or if the structure is damaged and is being restored before the damage occurred.