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Emergency Management - Floodplain Management Program/NFIP

Flooding is a natural phenomenon. Periodically, rain and melting snow cause rivers to rise and streams and lakes to overflow their banks onto adjacent land. Floods have carved these areas, known as floodplains, out for the specific purpose of carrying excess floodwaters.

Learn about flood risks with some great tools

As settlements and communities formed, little regard was given to the purpose and function of floodplains. Homes, businesses, and even whole communities have been built in floodplain areas. The development of these floodplains has resulted in continual and oftentimes severe social and economical loss.

Traditionally, planning for flood control has focused on protecting existing development(s) through structural works such as dams, diversions, or levees, and providing emergency relief and recovery assistance to flood victims following a disaster.

These approaches are expensive, and have been totally effective in reducing flood damages. Despite considerable expenditure on flood control works, annual damages due to flooding continue to rise. It is apparent that another alternative is needed, one that gets to the root of the problem: man's insistence to use and occupy flood hazard areas.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides that alternative. This law recognizes and encourages the need to control development in floodplains and to protect people from harm by relocating people and not floodwaters. It does not prohibit, but guide development in floodplain areas, balancing nature's needs to convey floodwaters, and a community's land use needs. Congress created NFIP in 1968, offering nonstructural approaches to reduce flood damage. The program makes flood insurance available to property owners in flood - prone communities. In return each community agrees to guide future floodplain development. It requires local governments to adopt and enforce floodplain regulations, meeting federal requirements, before flood insurance can be obtained in their community.

Floodplain management is the operation of a community program of corrective and preventative measures for reducing flood damage. These measures take a variety of forms and generally include zoning, subdivision, or building requirements, and special - purpose floodplain ordinances.

Prior to the creation of the NFIP, floodplain management as a practice was not well established, only a few states and several hundred communities actually regulated floodplain development. For many communities, the NFIP was the community's initial exposure to land use planning and community regulations.

A community's agreement to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances, particularly with respect to new construction is an important element in making flood insurance available to home and business owners. Currently over 186 communities in Utah (view the Community Status List) voluntarily adopt and enforce local floodplain management ordinances that provide flood loss reduction building standards for new and existing development. There are 600-plus flood map panels for Utah. For more information on the NFIP, please contact John Crofts at

801.538.3332, or jcrofts@utah.gov.

Click on a link below for more information about floods

[Last Update - Friday, 08-Mar-2013 16:25:52 MST]
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