FEMA Mitigation Best Practices: Brazoria County Adopts Freeboard Regulation in Combatting Flood Loss   [open pdf - 587KB]

"Located in the Gulf Coast region of Texas, Brazoria County is among a number of counties that are part of the region known as the Texas Coastal Bend. The principal streams flowing through the county into the Gulf of Mexico include the Brazos and San Bernard rivers, Oyster Creek, Bastrop Bayou, and Chocolate Bayou. With a history of flooding, Brazoria County developed a regulation several years ago to reduce flood risk by ensuring new construction is elevated. 'In September 2007, the county made the decision to become proactive in combatting flood loss. We established a best practice model for new construction permitting within a flood zone,' said Joe Ripple, Brazoria County floodplain administrator. 'The 2015 flood proved our decision to be a good one.' According to Ripple, all new construction must be elevated two feet above the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), recommended standards for Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), thus creating a freeboard. Freeboard is a factor of safety usually expressed in feet above a flood level for purposes of floodplain management. It tends to compensate for many unknown factors that could contribute to flood heights greater than the height estimated for a selected size flood and floodway conditions. Freeboard also offers a financial advantage. It results in significantly lower flood insurance rates due to lower flood risk. For the purpose of administering the NFIP, FEMA identifies and maps flood hazard areas by conducting flood hazard studies and publishing Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). These flood hazard areas are based on a flood having a 1-percent probability of being equaled or exceeded in any given year (also referred to as the 100-year flood or Base Flood)."

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