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Flood Insurance

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Did you know that there is a 26 percent chance a structure located in the floodplain will flood over the life of a 30-year mortgage? Did you know the City of Tulsa has up to a 40 percent discount for homeowners in a Special Flood Hazard Area (100-year floodplain) on flood insurance, and a 10 percent discount for all other properties?

Most homeowners' policies do not cover flood losses. You can protect your home and contents through the National Flood Insurance Program. You should obtain coverage for structure and contents. There can be more damage to the contents than the structure. Renters can buy contents coverage even if the owner does not insure the structure. There is a 30-day waiting period before the policy becomes effective.

Flood insurance is required by law in order to obtain federally secured financing to buy, build, or renovate a structure located in a flood hazard area. This financing includes federal grants, FHA and VA loans, and most conventional mortgage loans. "A General Guide to Regulatory Floodplains" includes a map that shows where flood hazard areas are in the City of Tulsa. The guide is available from the Customer Care Center.

To find out more about flood insurance, contact any licensed property/casualty agent or broker - the same person who sells your home and auto policies. All agencies charge the same premiums. You may be denied federal assistance after a disaster if you don't have flood insurance.

Flood insurance is available for all properties in Tulsa. For more information, contact the Customer Care Center at 311.

Protect your property from flood damage
Over the years, the City of Tulsa has completed many flood control projects to keep floodwaters from reaching buildings. The City also regularly maintains drainage ditches and storm sewers to prevent water from backing up into streets and homes. Despite these efforts, the risk of flooding has not been - and cannot be - completely eliminated. Therefore, citizens should take measures to protect their property.

You may see what your flood risk is by examining the detailed floodplain boundary maps in this atlas. To request a free, written flood-zone determination contact the Mayor's Action Center and provide the correct address and legal description of the property.

In some cases, retrofitting existing buildings or regrading a yard can help reduce the potential for flood damages to structures and their contents. Retrofitting techniques include elevating buildings above flood levels, wet or dry floodproofing (commercial structures), and installing backflow preventers to protect floors and contents from sewer backups. Structural barriers such as levees and floodwalls may also be constructed to protect property from floodwaters. Remember, a building permit may be required for retrofitting or structural projects.

A publication of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), "Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding" (Publication #312), includes information on technical and financial assistance. The book can be obtained free by calling 1-800-480-2520 or going online to www.fema.gov/mit/rfit.

There are temporary measures you may take to protect your property during a flood event. Plan ahead about where and how you will move furniture out of harm's way. Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing. Clear brush and debris away from storm drains and ditches.

Qualified City staff is available at the Permit Center to discuss your options and to help you plan and build a safe project while complying with City floodplain development policies.

Building permits ensure safe construction inside and outside floodplains. Always get a building permit when constructing in flood-prone areas.

The City of Tulsa's permitting process is designed to ensure that all construction in Tulsa is safe. A permit is required for all new construction and, most of the time, you must obtain a permit for repairing or replacing existing features. Before you begin construction or add on to your existing building, find out which permits are required by contacting the Permit Center.

In addition to regular building permits, special regulations apply to construction in floodways and the Regulatory Floodplain. No construction, including filling, is allowed in the mapped floodway without an engineering analysis that shows the project will not increase flood damage elsewhere. Any activity outside the floodplain but within a natural or man-made watercourse also requires a permit.

A floodplain watershed development permit must be obtained from the City of Tulsa before commencing construction, landfill, or excavation in the floodplain. New buildings in the floodplain must be protected from flood damage so our building code requires that new buildings be elevated at least one foot above the elevation of the City of Tulsa Regulatory Floodplain.

Homeowners who are planning substantial improvements should contact the Permit & Licensing Center for a residential building permit. Elevation or floodproofing may be required if you want to construct a substantial improvement (the cost of the improvement or add-on is 50 percent of the value of the existing building). Permits also are required for a repair if it's more than just cleanup after a storm. If your property is substantially damaged (50 percent of the value of the building), federal regulations may require you to elevate or floodproof before you can rebuild.

To report illegal floodplain development or to verify that proper construction permits have been issued for a project, contact the Mayor's Action Center. An inspector will investigate.

What can you do to help prevent flooding?
Remember, storm drains are for rain. Tulsa's storm sewers were designed to divert excess rainwater to creeks that flow to the Arkansas River and Bird Creek. It is important control the quantity of the water flowing into the drainage system. Crews routinely remove debris from drains and sewers to prevent water from backing up into streets and homes when it rains. Unfortunately, actions such as littering and dumping yard waste and household fluids down storm drains can lead to blockages between scheduled maintenance work.

Please do your part to keep the inlets and drainage ways clear of brush and debris. Here are steps you can take to help control the quantity of water in Tulsa's creeks. These actions also will beautify your neighborhood and reduce the risk of dangerous flooding.

  • Use a mulching mower or bag your grass and leaves instead of blowing the yard waste into the street. Yard waste can clog storm drains and, since it is organic matter, it can reduce the amount of oxygen in the creek. Fish need oxygen to survive.

  • Pick up litter around your neighborhood or business place so the trash doesn't collect on drainage inlets or clog sewer pipes. If you see someone littering, report the incident to the Oklahoma Litter Hotline, (888)-5-LITTER.

  • If you spot a blocked drain or notice illegal dumping, call the Customer Call Center at 311, and an inspector will investigate. Putting foreign substances into the storm sewer is a violation of City ordinance.

  • Rain barrels, rain gardens and other Low Impact Development measures improve water quality and quantity.

For more information on Flood Insurance, visit Floodsmart.gov