How flood plain management affects you

flooding over a road
Protecting the floodplain makes a community more resilient to flooding, and the recovery time from flooding is substantially reduced. (Submitted photo)

On May 1, the Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation District assumed the role of flood plain coordinator in Tuscarawas County. According to federal regulations, each county and/or city is to manage and enforce federal standards and regulations to protect the flood plain, so that the county and/or city will be eligible for federally-guaranteed flood insurance. 

If a county neglects or refuses to participate in such a program, its residents would no longer be able to purchase flood insurance. 

By participating in the National Flood Insurance Program the residents of a county benefit from being able to purchase flood insurance. They are also eligible for disaster relief if a flood should occur in their area. 

Protecting the flood plain in a community also makes that community more resilient to such flooding, and the recovery time from flooding is substantially reduced. 

Lastly, the community benefits from a healthier flood plain, in that wildlife can better thrive and the flood plain can help reduce flood surges created by man-made development.  

What is a flood plain?

The flood plain is that part of the stream that conveys the excess water of a stream or river during a flood or rain event. Improper development within the flood plain can cause significant loss of property and possibly of life. 

Further, any individual who does not follow their local flood plain regulations could even open themselves and their property/farm to legal action from their neighbors should a flood occur and could become liable for damage. 

The proper care of the flood plain can be very beneficial to the environment in the following ways:  

  • protect fish and wildlife habitat.
  • protect wetlands.
  • store and convey flood waters to protect homes and property. 
  • reduce flood water velocities to prevent costly damage of property. 
  • reduce flood water peaks in an area. 
  • enhance the quality of the surface waters. 
  • promote groundwater and aquifer recharge for individual wells. 
  • provide higher quality recreational opportunities for those within the community. 

Managing the flood plain

The flood plain is primarily managed through the regulations that have been adopted by your county. This involves the following:  

  • issuing permits for development in flood plain areas of your county. 
  • providing Flood Zone determinations and Base Flood Elevation for residents and businesses. 
  • performing substantial damage and substantial improvement determinations for the structures (if a flood event occurs). 
  • investigating violations of the flood plain ordinance and initiating corrective action(s).
  • the maintaining of flood plain management records for the county. 
  • educating community members and local officials about flood plain management.  

Permits necessary

Any activity in the flood plain is subject to a permit, from filling along a stream bank to the development of a home and/or business. And it must be noted that according to FEMA, there are no exemptions to the permit. 

Agricultural development is not exempt. Neither is mining, landscaping or other activity of man. Even the placement of round bales of hay or silage bags could be subject to local flood plain regulations. 

Some may wonder why this is. It is simply because if a flood comes on your property, whatever is not properly developed and/or tied down will most likely end up on your neighbor’s property, possibly damaging his property as well as yours. 

Whatever floats is likely to move. And if a cargo container or pre-fab shed starts to float, it most likely will not stay on your property. Depending on the severity of the storm, that shed or container could travel several hundred feet or even miles. 

Better to be safe than sorry. No one knows the date of the next 100-year flood.  

Anyone with questions regarding the flood plain or what can or cannot be done in the flood plain can call Lee Finley at 330-339-7976.  


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Lee Carl Finley is a district technician with the Tuscarawas Soil and Water Conservation District, and provides technical support for the Carroll SWCD. Prior to working with the SWCD, Finley was a health inspector with the Tuscarawas County Health Department, and is a registered sanitarian with the State of Ohio and the National Environmental Health Association.



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