Flood Control Basics Overview

FEMA guidelines for flood proofing non residential structures (TB 3-93)

Before a floodproofed building is designed, numerous planning considerations, including flood warning time, uses of the building, mode of entry to and exit from the building and the site in general, floodwater velocities, flood depths, debris impact potential, and flood frequency, must be addressed to ensure that dry floodproofing will be a viable floodplain management tool. These critical considerations are discussed within this bulletin.

In the FEMA publication “Floodproofing of Non-Residential Structures,”floodproofing is described as a combination of adjustments and/or additions of features to buildings that eliminate or reduce the potential for flood damage. Examples of such adjustments and additions include anchoring of the building to resist flotation, collapse, and lateral movement; installation of watertight closures for doors and windows; reinforcement of walls to withstand floodwater pressures and impact forces generated by floating debris; use of membranes and other sealants to reduce seepage of floodwater through walls and wall penetrations; installation of pumps to control interior water levels; installation of check valves to prevent the entrance of floodwater or sewage flows through utilities; and the location of electrical, mechanical, utility, and other valuable damageable equipment and contents above the expected flood level.

Floodproofing components for an individual building may also include floodwalls, small localized levees, or berms around buildings. However, such components, because they are not part of the building itself, are generally not credited for the flood insurance rating of a building under the NFIP and are therefore not detailed within this bulletin.

FEMA Technical Bulletin 3-93
Please click to open publication as a PDF document

Flood insurance NFIP (Parameters) (TB 3-93)

The NFIP allows a new or substantially improved non-residential building in an A zone (Zone A, AE, A 1-A30, AR, AO, or AH) to have a lowest floor below the base flood elevation (BFE), provided that the building has been designed, constructed, and certified to be floodproofed and to meet established criteria. Floodproofing of areas below the BFE in residential buildings is not permitted under the NFIP. In a Coastal High Hazard Area (Zone V, VE, or V 1 -V30), construction or substantial improvement of a building with a lowest floor elevation below the BFE is not allowed, regardless of any floodproofing techniques employed.

NFIP Regulations

The NFIP regulations that specifically apply to the design of floodproofing for non-residential buildings are within Section 60.3(c)(3), which states that the community shall:

“Require that all new construction and substantial improvements of non-residential structures within Zones A1 -A30, AE, and AH on the community’s FIRM (i) have the lowest floor (including basement) elevated to or above the base flood level, or (ii) together with attendant utility and sanitary facilities, be designed so that below the base flood level the structure is watertight with walls substantially impermeable to the passage of water and with structural components having the capability of resisting hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads and effects of buoyancy.”

Please see above for a complete copy of TB 39-3.

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, on May 2006: Dentist's place of business in formerly flooded Mid City neighborhood.
New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, on May 2006: Dentist’s place of business in formerly flooded Mid City neighborhood. Photo: Infrogmation

October 2005: Flooded office machinery set out on curb, Central Business District, New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina.
October 2005: Flooded office machinery set out on curb, Central Business District, New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina. Photo: Infrogmation

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