Flooding and Floodplains

Did you know that if your property is in a 100-year flood zone, a Special Flood Hazard Permit is required for any work within the flood zone? That includes work that may not normally require a zoning or building permit. The phrase “any work” includes, but is not limited to:

• The Alteration or Relocation of Watercourse
• New Construction, Additions, Renovation or Demolition of a Structure
• All Work on Historic Structures
• All Work with Accessory Structures
• Development Which May Endanger Human Life, such as the storage of hazardous chemicals
• Subdivisions and Development
• All Work on Manufactured Homes
• The Long-Term Parking of Recreational Vehicles
• Special Activities, such as the construction, enlargement, or expansion of any structure used, or intended to be used for Hospitals, Nursing homes, Jails or prisons; or the commencement of, or any construction of, a new manufactured home park or manufactured home subdivision, or substantial improvement to an existing manufactured home park or manufactured home subdivision.
• All other work within the Regulatory Floodplain

South Whitehall Township voluntarily participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is a voluntary Federal program open to local governments. Participation in the NFIP requires local governments to adopt and enforce a FEMA-approved Floodplain Ordinance.  Municipalities that participate in the NFIP receive for their citizens the availability of lower-cost flood insurance and a number of other pre- and post-flooding benefits. For those wanting or needing flood insurance, the NFIP insurance rates may be as much as 70% less in cost than private flood insurance. The NFIP makes available grants to elevate buildings or structures above the flood zone, both before and after flood events. The NFIP also provides for lower flood insurance rates for residents of those participating communities that are proactive in reducing flooding risks within their boundaries.

As a participant in the NFIP, the Township is required to enforce its Floodplain Ordinance. Failure to do so may result in the Township be placed on probation or even suspended from the program entirely. Probation may result in a surcharge on all flood insurance policies within the Township. Suspension may result in the non-availability of NFIP flood insurance for new or renewing policies. The Township is seeking to improve the understanding of the requirements and benefits of the NFIP, particularly with residents and property owners in or near flood zones. Township staff is willing to assist with your questions and more information is coming to the Township website. Please feel free to contact us with your questions.

If you want to know if your property is in or near a flood zone, you may use the FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to view flood zone information for a property, simply by searching the property’s street address.

To create a personalized Firmette for your property, which contains all of the necessary flood plain information for that property,, visit the Flood Map Service Center, search for an address and click on the “View Map” icon.  Firmettes are preferred when submitting a Special Flood Hazard Permit Application and will expedite the processing of the application.

For additional information, check out FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program website at https://www.floodsmart.gov/.

For information regarding the Lehigh Valley Hazard Mitigation Plan, check out the Lehigh Valley Planning Commission’s website at http://www.lvpc.org/hazard-mitigation.html