Flood Protection Information Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA)
Certain lands in the City of Portage adjacent to the Portage Creek, Austin Lake, West Lake, Gourdneck Lake and their tributaries as well as several low-lying areas in the City of Portage have been identified as special flood hazard areas. A special flood hazard area is that portion of land subject to inundation by a flood and/or flood-related erosion hazards.
Maps of the Local Flood Hazard Area
Maps showing the SFHAs as identified on the Federal Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) are available in the City of Portage Department of Community Development, located at 7900 South Westnedge Avenue, and from the FEMA Flood Map Service Center on the FEMA Flood Maps website. Community Development can assist you in determining whether your property is located in one of the SFHAs. They can also help you with questions and forms necessary to request that FEMA remove your property from the SFHA. To obtain flood hazard (floodplain) information, call (269) 329-4477.
Building permits are required for remodeling projects, repairs, replacements, new structures, additions, decks, driveways, sheds, pools and other structures. A building permit must be obtained from Community Development before beginning any construction. Some of these activities may not be permitted or may be restricted in scope if they will be located within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Other activities that may not normally require a permit such as grading or filling might be prohibited or restricted if they will take place within the SFHA. A permit from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and a Soil Erosion Sedimentation Control (SESC) permit from Community Development must be issued before grading and filling activities will be allowed within the SFHA. Call Community Development at (269) 329-4466 for specific requirements related to your project.
If an existing structure is located within a SFHA, there are restrictions as to how much the structure can be improved or reconstructed if damaged by fire or other means. This work is classified as a Substantial Improvement and the cost of any repair, reconstruction or improvement to the structure located in a SFHA is limited to 50% of the market value of the structure before the repair or improvements are begun. This is to assure that the flood insurance liability of a property that has been identified as prone to flooding does not increase substantially.
There are several ways to protect your home from flood damage. These options may include elevating your building above the flood level, elevating damage-prone components such as furnace and air conditioning units, dry flood proofing the building, wet flood proofing portions of the building to prevent damage, and others. For further information on property protection measures that you may take, please contact the Community Development Department Building Division at (269) 329-4466.
There are also external websites that serve as excellent guides in assisting you in identifying your specific flooding problem and what methods are available for protection. Click on the links at right to access these sites.
Property owners in flood hazard areas are often unaware of the risk of floods and do not carry adequate flood protection insurance to cover potential losses. If you don’t have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. Homeowner’s policies do not cover damage from floods. Because the City of Portage participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy. The insurance is backed by the federal government and is available to everyone, even if your property has flooded before or is not indicated as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
For further information about flood insurance, go to floodsmart.gov.
Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, except fire. Most communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rain, heavy thunderstorms or winter snow melts. Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. Flash floods occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. For an up-to-date forecast of flood threats, check flood information on FEMA's website.