Even with all the advances in technology and other amenities that help control our day to day lives, we can not prevent inclement weather, however we can be prepared. Hurricanes such as Bertha, Floyd, Fran, Charlie and the No Name Hurricane caused much devastation and financial difficulties for the citizens of Oak Island. The Department of Development Services is in charge of assisting the citizens of Oak Island in preparing and recovering from extreme weather events, mainly flooding. Areas prone to flooding include the ocean front areas, the estuary shoreline, and a small valley located between 58th Street and 40th Street along Dolphin and Pelican Drive.
A person’s home typically represents his or her greatest investment. That is why many people have their home insured. What some people do not know is that Homeowners Insurance does not normally cover damage caused by flooding.
It is possible to get flood insurance from an NFIP agent. If you have questions regarding the flood insurance program under the, NIFP please call toll free 1-800-427-4661. Additional information is also available at www.fema.gov/nfip.
Local water bodies such as the Atlantic Ocean, AIWW, Davis Canal, Montgomery Slough, and the Elizabeth River provide us access to many of the things we enjoy participating in but they can also cause a great deal of devastation. Flooding from ocean over-wash or heavy rainfalls can quickly cause the inland waterways to flood creating dangerous conditions. These dangerous conditions include but are not limited to erosion, road and soil washouts, and dangerous driving conditions. Standing water also provides problems by being a breeding ground for bacteria and disease.
Citizens can help stabilize the soil and bring the waters back to a normal level, during a flood, by planting trees and grass prior to a flood. Water levels are brought back to normal quicker when there is a limited amount of impervious surfaces (surfaces covered by asphalt or concrete) on your property, which does not allow for the water to be absorbed as quickly.
It is important to know if your property is located within a flood zone to help you understand your chances of being flooded. The Department of Development Services will assist you in finding out your flood zone hazard. We use a special map based on the flood hazard areas from the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) to determine if you are in a flood zone and if so which zone you are in. The following information will be provided when you call: community number, panel number and suffix, and FIRM zone Box.
Development and Building Permits are required before any phase of construction begins. This is done to ensure that proper flood resistant materials are used generally to reduce the amount of damage that could be caused to a structure by a flood. Any structure located within the Flood zone is required to meet the Flood resistant materials requirements as set by the NFIP, furthermore any structure located partially or fully in a v-zone must be designed by a licensed design professional. For more information about these materials you can either call Development Services at 278-5024 or you can obtain this information at: www.fema.gov/nfip-technical-bulletins. Building in the Town of Oak Island without a permit is ILLEGAL; please report instances to Development Services at 278-5024.
The flood hazard reduction requirements are strictly enforced in the floodplain areas. Some of these requirements are designing electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, air conditioning equipment, and other service facilities so as to prevent water from entering or accumulating within the components during a flood. The Town of Oak Island’s zoning ordinance requires that all new buildings located within the flood plain must be elevated to one foot above the base or “100-year” flood base. Furthermore, all construction on the island must be built to meet 130 mph wind-zone requirements. For more information on this please contact Development Services.
The Town also enforces the substantial improvement/damage requirements. This requires that if the cost of reconstruction, remodeling, additions, or other improvements to a building exceeding 50% of the properties value before being damaged or altered then the whole structure must be brought up to current building and ordinance requirements.
There are a number of measures that property owners can take to limit possible damage from flooding to existing homes.
- Elevate your home so that the lowest floor is above the flood level is one way, to protect your home and property against flooding. However, the most effective way to permanently retrofit your home against flood damage is to move it out of a flood plain.
- Relocate the electrical box, the water heater, and heating system, to an upper floor or elevate it at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation.
- Anchor the fuel tank to the foundation to prevent it from overturning and floating. Metal structural supports and fasteners must be non-corrosive. Wooden treated structural supports must be pressure treated.
- Anchor sheds or other outbuildings either to a foundation or with straps and ground anchors; this will make them less susceptible to wind damage or being blown away.
In the case of a pending flood, there are some actions you can take to further protect your property.
- Elevate furniture above flood protection levels.
- Using backflow preventers at sewer lines to the dwelling prevents sewer backflow.
Keep materials like sandbags, plastic sheeting, and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing. And remember that drainage ditches perform better when kept clear of brush and debris.
The Town of Oak Island as a community loses a portion of our drainage system due to dumped debris, soil erosion, and sedimentation. When this happens flooding occurs more quickly, and easily, it also reaches higher elevations. The higher elevation of flooding can subject properties that are otherwise protected to unnecessary risks.
- To minimize risks, refrain from dumping grass clippings and brush along canal banks and waterways.
- Divert gutters, down spouts, and sump pump drainage on to grassy areas and away from impervious surfaces.
- Plant native trees and plants as part of a natural landscape in order to minimize mowing and watering.
- Cover bare soil with native plants to reduce soil erosion and water runoff.
- Make sure landscape improvements slope away from your home so that water runoff does not end up inside your home or next to the foundation.
Dumping is against the law please report any dumping to the local code enforcement officer at (910) 278-5024. For Flood assistance due to drainage problems please call the Code Enforcement Officer at (910) 278-5024 or Public Works Director John Michaux at (910) 201-8008.
Warning systems keep you informed and can save your life. Flood Warnings and forecasts of impending storms are broadcast to the public by NOAA weather radio, and local TV and Radio. These warnings are intended to give residents time to prepare, and protect their properties. They also act to lessen citizen exposure to expected floods. Flood and Storm information may be heard on:
- NOAA Weather Radio 162.550
- WWAY-TV3 (Cable channel 10)
- WECT-TV 6 (Cable channel 7)
- WHQR FM 91.3
- Radio AM 1350
- WGNI FM 102.7
- WAAV AM 980
- Cable TV Channel 8
- The Weather Channel (Cable 41)
Citizens of hazard areas can take the following actions to decrease the risk of injury due to flooding.
- Do not drive through flooded areas and do not drive around road barriers. Roads or Bridges may be washed out.
- Keep children away from flood waters, ditches, culverts, and drains.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Report downed power lines to the power company.
- Turn off all electrical circuits at the panel or disconnect all electrical appliances.
- Be alert for gas leaks. Do Not smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know that the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.
For more information on this publication contact the Town of Oak Island’s Development Services Department at (910) 278-5024 or visit our office at 4601 E. Oak Island Drive.