Property & Floodplain
This map shows the existing Special Flood Hazard Areas.
Within the City, the areas in blue were designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas (1% annual chance of inundation, also commonly known as the 100 year floodplain and floodway) by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on March 2, 2012. Lenders, insurers, and City regulations currently address this area as the floodplain and floodway.
The City of Altoona joined the NFIP in 1973. Through the city ordinance, the city is obligated to follow the FEMA regulations for development in the floodplain. In the City of Altoona there are approximately 700 properties in the floodplain. The City of Altoona also has a Certified Floodplain Manager on staff.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a Federal program, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and has three components: to provide flood insurance, to improve floodplain management and to develop maps of flood hazard zones.
Know your hazard
The City of Altoona regulates development in the “100 year flood”, which is the area affected by a flood event with a 1% probability of occurring in any given year.
There are 4 streams in the city limits that are in the 100 year flood:
- Spring Run – Juniata area
- Brush Run – in the valley between the boulevards
- Mill Run – 31st Street, along Union Avenue to Llyswen area then past the mall
- Burgoon Run – Eldorado area
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood impact resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS:
- Reduce flood damage to insurable property;
- Strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP, and
- Encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management.
Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Storms are not the only cause of flooding. Overflows from oceans and rivers, snowmelt, a dam or levee breach and impacts to groundwater tables from new developments can result in flood damage.
You don’t have to live on the coast or in a high-risk area to be in danger of a flood damaging your property. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reports that about 20% of flood insurance claims occur outside the flood zones. Many are caught off guard from the financial and emotional impacts of floods.
Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as well as private carriers. A broker can determine what carrier you would be eligible for. Contrary to belief, it is affordable – most policies cost as little as $200 depending on your circumstances.
If you live in a floodplain and have a mortgage through a lender, you would be required to buy flood insurance. Even if you don’t have a mortgage and live in high risk area, having flood insurance can mean the difference between having the funds to rebuild or being financially devastated.
Did you know? There is a 30 day waiting period following the purchase of flood insurance.
There is a difference between flood damage and water damage.
Flood – Insurance companies classify a flood as a sudden rise of water on land that is normally dry. This can be from rising rivers, lakes, streams or oceans. Also, a flood can be from a mudslide or heavy rain seeping into the basement of a home. These causes are not typically covered by homeowner’s insurance.
Water Damage – This is generally from a burst pipe in your home or rainwater or an ice dam leaking through a roof. Homeowner’s insurance would cover these costs.
Did you know?
- Rapidly moving water can be dangerous. It is so powerful it can carry a car, house, tree or person away. Two feet of water can push large vehicles away, such as buses.
- Even 6 inches of fast moving water has the strength to knock a person down.
- An extreme river flood is called a flash flood, which carries water ranging from 10 to 20 feet high. This event occurs very fast with extreme rains but with little or no warnings.
- 66% of flood deaths occur in vehicles, and most cases happen when drivers make the deadly mistake of navigating through waters.
- Some US states make citizens reimburse the cost of their rescue when they drive into flooded areas.
Flood Watch: Be Prepared:
A Flood Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch refers to an activity that local authorities do when they inform the public that a flood is about to happen.
A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already happening. A Flood Warning is issued when flooding is imminent or occurring. A Flood Warning is instructing the public to vacate their homes and move to higher ground immediately.
Before a flood - recommended items to include in Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
- Water – One gallon of water per person, per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation.
- Food – at least three-day supply of non-perishable food. Can opener.
- Battery powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal help
- Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place.
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
- Develop a family emergency plan
- Local maps
- Prescription medications and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water
- Cash, Credit Cards, Banking Cards
- Blanket for each person
- Change of clothes
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Paper cups, plates, utensils and paper towels
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles and other activities for children.
After a flood, stay away from contaminated flood water. If your skin becomes in contact with contaminated flood water, wash with soap and uncontaminated water as soon as possible. After the flood has ended, the risks still remain. The surface of the road will have weakened, the water will be contaminated and there may be unattended gas leaks and fallen cables.
Safeguard your possessions
- Copies (electronic or paper) of critical documents in waterproof container/safe deposit box
- Household inventory – keep a written and photographed record of everything. Create files that include serial numbers. Have jewelry appraised.
- Avoid building in floodplain unless elevated or flood proofed
- Make sure sump is working with battery backup
- Clear debris from gutters and down spouts
- Anchor fuel tanks
- Place basement components on cement blocks
- Move furniture, valuables and important documents to a safe place
- Consider installing check valves to prevent backup of water
Protecting Natural Floodplain Functions
Please do your part to keep the stormwater inlets and drainage ways clear of brush and debris. These additional 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.
- Rain barrels, rain gardens and other low impact development measures improve water quality and quantity.
- Don’t dump animal waste or household wastes into the water.
- Consider keeping a natural riparian buffer along stream.
Importance of Floodplains
Floodplains are areas adjacent to rivers, ponds, lakes, and oceans that are periodically flooded at different points in time. Floodplains are hydrologically important, environmentally sensitive, and ecologically productive areas that perform many natural functions. They contain both cultural and natural resources that are of great value to society. Flooding occurs naturally along every river and coastal areas. Flood waters can carry nutrient-rich sediments which contribute to a fertile environment for vegetation. Floodplains are beneficial for wildlife by creating a variety of habitats for fish and other animals. In addition, floodplains are important because of storage and conveyance, protection of water quality, and recharge of groundwater.