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Flood Mitigation: Structures

In addition to buyouts of flood-prone properties, Vermont Emergency Management is promoting options for reducing flood risk, while maintaining our residential, non-residential, and municipal buildings through structural elevations, mitigation reconstruction, and floodproofing. To apply for a floodproofing project, eligible entities should complete the Pre-Application Form by August 16, 2024. To express interest in an elevation or mitigation reconstruction for a property, eligible entities should contact dps.hazardmitigation@vermont.gov to express interest by August 16, 2024.

  • Qualifying Structures: 
    • Residential, commercial, and municipal buildings.  
    • Have a history of damages from flooding (including structures determined to be Substantially Damaged by a local zoning/floodplain administrator), OR 
    • Located in a Special Flood Hazard Area as defined by FEMA. Note: past damage is not required to participate. 
    • Elevations: Must be structurally sound and capable of being elevated safely. 
    • Mitigation Reconstruction: For an existing structure and/or foundation that has been partially or completely demolished or destroyed in a flood. 
    • Floodproofing (Non-Residential and Municipal Only): Structurally sound and capable of being effectively floodproofed
  • Municipalities Apply on behalf of Property Owners: A jurisdiction wherein the structure is located must be willing to submit the application and manage the grant funding. 
  • Match Commitment: Grants typically require a 25% local match. VEM can now cover 100% of local match for Swift Current and DR-4720 Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) projects.
  • Elevation Requirements Prior to Construction Funding: Elevation Certificate, structural inspection by qualified professional, and engineered design showing the building is fit to be elevated and would meet or exceed local flood regulations. 
  • Mitigation Reconstruction Requirements Prior to Construction Funding: Substantial Damage determination and engineered design showing that the project would meet or exceed local flood regulations. 
  • Floodproofing Requirements Prior to Construction Funding: Structure must be designed and certified by a licensed design professional that structure can be dry floodproofed to FEMA’s requirements (note wet floodproofing or a combination of dry and wet floodproofing are an option in limited circumstances).
  • Flood Insurance: Following the elevation, flood insurance is generally required on the structure in perpetuity. 

Next steps: 

  • To express interest in elevation or mitigation reconstruction in your community please reach out directly to dps.hazardmitigation@vermont.gov by August 16, 2024.
  • To apply for a floodproofing project, eligible entities should complete the Pre-Application Form by August 16, 2024
  • VEM will review all inquiries and contact you about next steps.
  • Note: See below for more information about the program and application materials required for submission to FEMA.

General Information 

Hazard mitigation funding can be used to elevate structurally-sound buildings or rebuild Substantially Damaged buildings with a first floor above the base flood elevation to reduce flood risk and the impacts of flooding. Grants can cover a wide range of costs, such as: engineering services, surveying, obtaining Elevation Certificates, construction management, legal and permitting fees, relocation of utilities, elevation/building of the structure, ADA compliance, and filling in basements. They do not cover several costs, such as: elevating structure not in compliance with NFIP at time of construction, building additions, new decks or porches, aesthetic improvements, and landscaping in excess of restoring what existed on the site prior to construction. For more information, see the 2023 HMA Guidance under Part 12, B.3 Structure Elevation and Part 12, B.2 Mitigation Reconstruction.

Communities are strongly encouraged to consult with your regional DEC River Engineer on whether elevating or reconstructing your building would effectively mitigate flood risk. For example, properties threatened by fluvial erosion, in addition to flooding, an elevation or reconstruction may not be an effective solution.

Structures elevated using grant funding are generally required to carry flood insurance in perpetuity, unless (for example) the community receives a Letter of Map Revision from FEMA that shows that the structure is no longer in the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area.

Prior to receiving construction funding, subapplicants will need to submit an elevation certificate and structural inspection by a qualified professional (elevations) or a Substantial Damage determination (mitigation reconstruction), as well as designs prepared by a qualified engineer. Communities can include these costs in the application as pre-award expenditures (to be covered by the grant if it is awarded) or could apply for a Phased Project and include those items as part of the scope of work.

Project Cost-Effectiveness 

Applications must demonstrate the cost-effectiveness of the proposed elevation, meaning that the Benefit of the project outweighs the Cost of the project through a Benefit-Cost Analysis (BCA). There are several options to perform a BCA, depending on the funding source.

Options

  1. If a structure is documented as in the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and its total documented project costs are below $228,000, the project may be considered cost-effective and no additional documentation may be needed. Pre-calculated benefits guidance
  2. In some funding sources (e.g., BRIC and FMA), if the project is less than $1M, then a BCA Narrative may be sufficient.  
  3. If none of the above options apply to the project, a Full BCA in FEMA’s BCA Toolkit (download here) is required to demonstrate the project’s cost effectiveness.  

VEM may be able to provide technical assistance to subapplicants completing the BCA, upon request. All BCAs must provide supporting documentation to demonstrate that a BCR of 1.0 or greater. Supporting documentation can include, but is not limited to, documentation of project costs, maintenance costs, historical damages (e.g., detailed attestation by a community official, copies of invoices, Project Worksheets (PWs) from FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program), or likelihood of future damages (including the population impacted), project useful life, and level of protection for the project solution.  Once received, VEM will review and will attempt to coordinate with the subapplicant to address any gaps in documentation for the BCA prior to submitting to FEMA.

Application Requirements 

To express interest in elevating or mitigation reconstruction please reach out to dps.hazardmitigation@vermont.gov. Please reach out before beginning to fill out any forms below. The following are required forms for the final application to FEMA. Some forms must be completed by the Municipality, some will be by the property owner, and some will be completed by both. Application materials will be submitted to dps.hazardmitigation@vermont.gov.

Please note that Elevation and Mitigation Reconstruction projects can be submitted as Phased Projects. Phased Projects are for applications that are not ready to proceed directly to construction. Phase 1 can fund data collection, engineering analysis, design, environmental/historic preservation, permitting, final cost-estimation, and BCA refinement. Phase 2 will be for construction and closeout. Click here to learn more. Please reach out to dps.hazardmitigation@vermont.gov with any questions. 

Prior to Submission to FEMA: 

 Prior to Construction by Municipality/Property Owner (Elevations):  

Prior to Construction by Municipality/Property Owner (Mitigation Reconstruction): 

Note: Gathering/creating these construction-related requirements could be included in the scope of work for a phased project or as pre-award costs. If the project is awarded, documented and budgeted pre-award costs can be reimbursed at the same federal share as the other project costs.