Learn how enforced building codes prevent future losses

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Communities can reduce risk by adopting and enforcing building codes that require buildings in flood-prone areas to be raised above flood levels to prevent future damage.

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Enforcing building codes

Adopting and enforcing building codes is an important tool that communities can use to reduce flood risk and prevent future losses. In many communities, flood-related building codes come from the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) minimum floodplain management standards. These standards include provisions that the elevations of buildings in flood-prone areas be at or above Base Flood Elevation (BFE; the project height of waters in the 1% annual chance of flood). They also define certain construction materials or methods to minimize future flood damage. While the NFIP’s minimum standards are useful, FEMA strongly encourages communities to adopt building codes that go beyond the minimum requirements and provides resources to support those efforts.

Many state and local governments have gone beyond federal standards to protect their communities from flooding. For example, many communities in Delaware require the lowest floor of buildings in the 1% annual chance floodplain to be elevated 1 foot or more above BFE. The state has also developed a model drainage code to complement and improve communities’ stormwater management efforts. Enforcing building codes that comply with and go beyond federal standards provides individuals and communities with an excellent mechanism to protect themselves from flooding. 


A home that has been elevated by extending the home’s foundation.


Elevated homes remain standing on the beach in Bolivar Peninsula, TX


Homes that have not been elevated and the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew - Laurel Bay, South Carolina

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