Property Protection Measures & Permit Requirements
Several different methods are available to protect your home or business’ building from flood damage. Elevating or relocating a building will protect it from flood waters. Wet and dry floodproofing can help also. Additionally, berms, levees, and floodwalls can offer some protection as well. These methods and other property protection methods can be found in the following publications:
Electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, washers/dryers, and furniture should be elevated or relocated to a location less likely to be flooded. If a flood is coming, you should shut off the gas and electricity and move valuable contents to a higher location. Depending upon your house construction or your ability to modify your house, flood drains may be installed, backflow preventers for water lines may be installed, interior flood walls can be placed around utilities, and plugs or standpipes can be installed to prevent sewer back ups. Deeper sewer back up problems can be solved with overhead sewers, gate valves, or backup valves. Other approaches involve making your walls waterproof by adhering waterproof materials and waterproof paints. Another method places watertight closures over doorways and low windows. Also, you can keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber for emergency waterproofing. The City does have a sand bag program and issues sand bags during an approaching storm. These are distributed at City Hall. Please call the Public Works Department at (727) 893-1089 for further information. Another action to help minimize the amount of damage caused by flood water is to regrade your lot or build a small flood wall or earthen berm. Please contact the Building Division at (727) 893-1020 prior to regrading for permit information. Shuttering your windows and installing reinforced exterior doors and garage doors will protect your home against high winds. Many of these approaches are called flood-proofing or retrofitting. More information is available at the Gulfport Municipal Library. The City’s Building Division can provide technical assistance as well as make site visits to discuss specific flooding issues and possible solutions. Financial assistance for flood protection or mitigation may be available from federal agencies in the form of loans, grants, or as part of your flood insurance policy.
Floodplain Development Permit Requirements
All structures under construction within the City of Gulfport require building permits. Further, the City has adopted as part of its zoning ordinances, regulations on development, construction, and reconstruction in floodplains. The purpose of these regulations is to control the alteration of natural runoffs and storm runoff channels; prevent or regulate construction of flood barriers which divert flood waters or which may increase flood hazards in other areas; restrict or prohibit uses resulting in increased damage by erosion, flood velocities or flood heights; and to control filling, grading or other development that may increase flood damages. The City’s floodplain management codes are found in Chapter 10.5, Flood Damage Prevention, in the Charter Chapter 10.
All new construction and substantial improvements of existing structures must follow regulations specific to flood zone construction. Structures are permitted within flood zones provided they meet or exceed the base flood level elevation of the flood zone as identified on the FIRM. Elevation Certificates are required for construction within the 100-year flood zone as indicated by the Special Flood Hazard Areas on the FIRM’s. Contact the Gulfport Building Division for information regarding Elevation Certificates:
Existing Elevation Certificates for homes can be viewed at the Building Division or click on Gulfport Flood Certificates. (To search this document press “Ctrl-f” once open.) If any work is to be performed, especially in the designated flood hazard areas, please contact the Building Division. Report any illegal floodplain development to the Building Division.
Reporting and contacting the Building Division at 5330-23rd Avenue South, (727) 893-1020, prior to performing work is necessary as the regulations are extensive as permits are required for construction or improvements in the flood zones. Further information can be obtained at the Building Division’s website along with permit forms and regulations. If you have flooding problems, you can request a site visit related to drainage, site improvements, flood mitigation, and retrofitting techniques. City staff has qualified personnel in the Building Division of the Community Development Department to assist homeowners with site visits or plans review.
Substantial Improvement Requirement
A substantial improvement to a structure is any rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a building where the cost of the improvement equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the building before the start of the construction. Substantial improvements must meet the same construction requirements as a new building including lowest living floor elevation requirements. Substantially damaged structures must be brought up to the same standards as new construction.
Substantial improvements, however, do not include improvements to a building to correct existing health or sanitary code violations as identified by the City to ensure safe living conditions. For more information, click on the following for a publication regarding substantial damage/improvements. Answers To Questions About Substantially Damaged Buildings, FEMA 213.
As a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program, the City of Gulfport enforces the substantial improvement requirement. The City’s Building Division can inform and answer questions about the requirement and all local procedures for enforcing it. City personnel can review and discuss your building plans as they relate to flood zones, flood mitigation, building requirements, and zoning requirements. Additionally, the City’s Building Division can make site visits to discuss specific flooding issues and possible solutions.
Drainage System Maintenance
The City of Gulfport has a storm drainage system consisting of both open and closed segments. The open sections are the drainage swales, ponds and small lakes. The closed sections are comprised of storm water inlets and piping which carry water from streets to drainage features or areas that collect runoff and eventually outfall to Boca Ciega Bay. Maintenance of these systems is very important. Debris in the swales, catch basins and pipes obstructs the flow of water that could possibly cause overflowing stormwater to flood into roads and yards. This partial or complete filling in of these storm sewer systems reduces the flood flow capacity that contributes to the flooding of streets and yards. Maintenance of these systems is important to maintain a high flood flow capacity.
To achieve this, the City’s Public Works Department has formalized its storm sewer system maintenance procedures. City personnel clear and perform other maintenance work on the system at least two times per year. Some locations are maintained four times per year. Work is also performed on an emergency basis in problematic areas as needed or called in by residents. In addition to City performed maintenance, residents can help perform routine maintenance on ditches located on right-of-ways along the sides or the rear of their properties such as removal of high weeds, litter, debris or other items considered a nuisance. Also, residents should take care of their properties so that water cannot become stagnant which would create breeding areas for mosquitoes. Several of the City’s efforts depend upon your cooperation and assistance. You can help by:
- Always check with the Building Division before you build on, alter, regrade, or fill your property. Permits are needed to ensure projects do not cause problems, such as flooding onto other properties.
- Do not dump or throw anything into the ditches or ponds. Dumping in our ditches and ponds is a code violation. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels, inlets and storm sewer pipes. A plugged channel cannot carry water and when it rains the water has to go somewhere. When storm runoff has nowhere to go, the water will begin to flood the streets and yards, and possibly homes. Every piece of trash can contribute to flooding.
- If your property is next to a ditch or pond, please do your part and keep the banks clear of brush and debris.
- If you see building or filling or grading without a City permit sign posted, contact the Building Division at (727) 893-1020.
- Report illegal dumping by contacting Code Enforcement at (727) 893-1061.
- If you see a storm sewer catch basin that is slow to drain or does not drain runoff, or debris in ditches or ponds, contact the Public Works Department at (727) 893-1089.
Drainage maintenance is enforceable under the City’s Code of Ordinances, Chapter 12, Health and Sanitation, Article I, Nuisances. Overgrowth, trash, illegal dumping, habitat for rodents and other animals, and offensive smells created as a result of other nuisance conditions should be reported to Code Enforcement. Some of these nuisances can affect the performance of the drainage system and its ability to properly drain storm runoff water. Chapter 12 specifically addresses nuisances and drainage is found on this link Charter Chapter 12.