LAREDO, Texas -- Before rebuilding, homeowners should make sure their local permits are in order. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) urge homeowners to get specific information from their local municipalities about any building permits that may be required as they begin the rebuilding process.
This is especially important for residences located in Special Flood Hazard Areas, also known as regulatory floodplains.
Communities that participate in FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program enforce a requirement called the "substantial damage rule." Properties subject to the rule are those in a regulatory floodplain and for which repairs will cost at least 50 percent of the structure's pre-disaster value.
For example, if a structure's market value before the damage was $200,000 and repairs are estimated to cost $120,000, that structure is "substantially damaged." Land value is excluded from the determination, which is made by local officials.
Buildings in regulatory floodplains that are "substantially damaged" must comply with local floodplain management regulations. Owners who decide to rebuild may need to elevate or retrofit their structures or change them in some other way to comply with current building codes designed to reduce future flood losses. Owners of non-residential or historical structures have the additional option of flood-proofing projects.
In some cases, owners may decide to relocate their structures outside of the regulatory floodplain or to demolish them. Owners can obtain specific information about permits from local officials who enforce the "substantial damage" rule and other requirements.
Floodplain management regulations are designed to mitigate future losses of life and property. FEMA, the State of Texas and local communities are working together throughout the areas impacted by Hurricane Alex to help citizens rebuild and recover with safety and security.
For more information on the Hurricane Alex disaster recovery, browse the features on this FEMA website at www.fema.gov/hazard/hurricane/2010/alex/index.shtm. Users of smart phones and other mobile devices can visit m.fema.gov. Texans should also visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem for more information on this disaster and preparation for future disasters.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.