Floodplain Management

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Elevation Certificates: Updates and Common Issues

By John Gerber, North Carolina NFIP Coordinator, and edited by NeDNR

From December 2015 Floodplain Management Today

The current FEMA Elevation Certificate (and Floodproofing Certificate) expired July 31, 2015, but the Federal Office of Management and Budget has been extending the expiration date month by month with the latest extension going until Nov. 30, 2015. While they finish their review and approve the updated form, continue using the existing form even if it says “expires July 31, 2015.” NeDNR will keep you updated. [Please see current Elevation Certificate here]

Common Discrepancies

If you are a local floodplain administrator, please do not simply accept submitted ECs and put in your file. It is imperative that you review for accuracy and completeness. Some common mistakes in ECs are below.

Section A

A4. Building use is not completed or correctly identifying the type of structure. Additions should be noted with further explanation in the Comments Section D as to where the elevations were shot. It can be confusing when the new construction is an addition, but the elevations in C2 are for the entire structure.

A7. Verify the correct building diagram is used. It may have huge implications on the insurance rate. If unsure of the proper diagram, select the one that most closely resembles the building being certified and add comments or even a sketch so it is clear where the elevations in C2 are shot.

A8 and A9. Verify there are the correct number of permanent openings within 1.0 foot above adjacent grade (interior or exterior) and the proper NET AREA is calculated.

Section B

Floodplain administrators should verify information in B1-B9 is correct before accepting the EC. This is a simple review, but often overlooked. Make sure the correct Community Identification Number is used for your community and make sure the entire map/panel number is in B4.

B10. Verify the source of the Base Flood Elevation is correct. For detailed studies with profiles, the Flood Insurance Study profile block should be checked. If only the FIRM is checked as the source of the BFE, it should be questioned. For AH and AO Zones, where there are no profiles, checking the FIRM block would be appropriate. If your community has requested a BFE from NDNR, then it is appropriate to check “community determined” based on the NDNR BFE document.

Section C

C1. The “finished construction” EC should not be submitted until all mechanical equipment and final grading is complete per EC instructions. The finished construction EC must be maintained in your community files forever.

C2. Check to make sure the benchmark utilized references the Permanent Identifier or other unique identifier as explained in the instructions. Using “GPS,” “USGS,” “Private,” “N/A” or leaving it blank is not acceptable.

C2a-h. Make sure to include “N/A” if the elevation does not apply for that section.

Section D

There should always be comments in this section. The more explanation, the better.

Section G

Please use this section to document the items noted and include comments. This information can be very useful to you as staff changes allowing their assumptions or decisions to be tracked and documented. It also helps in our review during a CAV when the EC is reviewed and approved by a previous staff member that is no longer available.

One final note - many individuals located in a Zone X are told by insurance agents that an EC is required if they want a flood insurance policy. They think insurance and then automatically think—EC. Being told that, they hire a surveyor to complete the elevation information in Section C and note the flood zone is X in B8. This is an unnecessary expense since the Zone X rates and Preferred Risk Policies are not based on elevation data and ECs are not required. Please help get the word out wherever you can. This is one less expense property owners need on top of the new surcharges and fees.

If you need any help reviewing Elevation Certificates, you can contact Chuck Chase or Katie Ringland at NeDNR.

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