Cape Girardeau County and the NFIP
Cape Girardeau County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in order for home and property owners to be able to purchase flood insurance. The NFIP requires communities to: adopt floodplain ordinances, maintain records of floodplain development, and maintain the community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 added a key requirement to the NFIP: if a community participates in the program, flood insurance is a prerequisite for receiving money from a federal agency or a federally-support financial program. Federal insurance lending institutions will have floodplain determinations performed on a burrower’s property. This is to determine if flood insurance is required. The lending institution may require flood insurance even if the property is not in the floodplain but it will be at a lower premium.
Cape Girardeau County Floodplain Management Area
The county is responsible for floodplain management in the unincorporated areas of the county. The incorporated communities in the county that are responsible for their own Floodplain management are Allenville, Cape Girardeau, Dutchtown, Jackson, and Whitewater. Delta, Gordonville, and Old Appleton have flood prone areas but do not participate in the NFIP. Oak Ridge and Pocahontas are incorporated communities but they do not have flood prone areas. If your county or community participates in the NFIP, you can purchase flood insurance if you are in, or even outside, the mapped floodplain. Flood insurance rates are typically lower for properties outside the mapped floodplain.
In November, 2015 the Cape Girardeau County Commission approved County Ordinances 15-03 for floodplain management of the unincorporated areas of the county. The current Flood Insurance Rate Maps for the county may be viewed by entering the FEMA Map Service Website.
Many people don’t understand just how risky the floodplain can be. There is a 26% change that a non-elevated home in the floodplain will be damaged during a 30-year mortgage period. The chance that a major fire will occur during the same period is only 1%.
Why does a 100-year flood event happen more than once every hundred years?
Whether it was intended or not, labeling floods and storms as either a 10 or 100, or 500 year event has misled people into thinking that size flood event occurs once every 10 or 100 or 500 year time period. This is wrong. A more accurate way of thinking of these events is that they have a 1-in-10 or 1-in-100 or 1-in-500 chance happening every year.
For a 100 year flood event imagine this. Once a year we blindly reach into a bin of 100 balls; 99 are white and 1 is black. You pull out a white ball. No chance of a flood event that big this year. Now we put the ball back in the bin and mixed them up. Next year, you reach in and you pull out a black ball; remember there is only one black ball. This means we are going to have a flood that gets to a certain elevation this year. Again, we put the ball back in the bin and draw next year. In theory, we can pull that black ball out several years in a row. The higher the flood elevation, the smaller the chance of that size flood event happening. A 500 year flood is a 1-in-500 (.2%) chance of that event occurring. This is a statistical method of calculating one of nature’s most destructive events. We all know that nature is a powerful force.