Floodplain Management

The DNREC floodplain management program works to preserve public health, safety, and well-being and protect property by reducing flood hazard risks statewide.

To accomplish this mission, the program works with agencies across all levels of government as well as the public to support risk-informed decision making.

Strategic Priorities

Education and outreach programs: Offer training and guidance to stakeholders about flooding, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and community resiliency.

NFIP administration and support: Advance the development and function of state and local community floodplain management.

Technical assistance: Assist communities with technical aspects of floodplain administration and mitigation.

Mapping: Promote accurate and up-to-date floodplain mapping.

Research: Inform innovative flood risk analysis, management, and mitigation through research.

Mitigation: Provide assistance and facilitate access to available grant funding to mitigate flood risk.

Partnerships: Maintain and develop partnerships to further common goals.

The Threat of Flooding

Flooding is a year-round threat in Delaware. Just a few inches of rainfall can cause significant damage to homes and businesses. Some coastal areas are at risk of flooding caused by storm surges or tidal flooding during coastal storms.

Homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA maps floodplains in the United States as part of the National Flood Insurance Program. It uses these maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), to identify high and moderate flood risk areas. DNREC’s Floodplain Management Program works with FEMA to improve the accuracy of the maps.

Statewide Floodplain Management

The DNREC floodplain management program is the state coordinating agency of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) assisting Delaware’s local jurisdictions and counties with the administration of their floodplain management ordinance requirements.

The program works to help communities enforce minimum floodplain management standards, in keeping with federal regulations. It promotes adoption of higher standards to reduce the risk of damage caused by flooding, to protect life and property and to ensure that all development in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is reasonably safe from flooding.

DNREC’s statewide floodplain management activities include:

  • Technical and planning assistance with NFIP regulations for floodplain development, assistance with the Community Rating System (CRS) program, and hazard mitigation grant assistance.
  • Monitoring the performance of local community floodplain management and review of locally adopted floodplain ordinances to ensure compliance with the NFIP through periodic Community Assistance Visits (CAV) and Community Assistance Contacts (CAC).
  • Educational outreach and training events.
  • Updates and improvement to FIRMs.
  • Participation in the state hazard mitigation planning process.
  • Consultation to state agencies for state-owned facilities in special flood hazard areas.
  • Partnerships with local, state and federal organizations.

Local Floodplain Management Contacts and Responsibilities

The role of a Local Floodplain Administrator is to enforce minimum National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulatory requirements and higher standards through an adopted floodplain management ordinance for all development activities within mapped Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) for a jurisdiction participating in the program.

Local Floodplain Administrator responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing applications to determine whether proposed activities are located in SFHAs.
  • Interpreting floodplain boundaries and provide flood elevation and flood hazard information.
  • Reviewing applications to determine whether proposed activities will be reasonably safe from flooding.
  • Issuing permits for development in SFHAs to ensure compliance with local floodplain ordinances or disapproving them in the event of noncompliance.
  • Inspecting and enforcing regulatory requirements for development activities in SFHAs.
  • Reviewing submitted elevation certificates for completeness.
  • Conducting determinations as to whether existing buildings and structures damaged by any cause and located in SFHAs have been substantially damaged.

Preparedness and Flood Risk Mitigation

Related DNREC Programs
Coastal Programs (Sea Level Rise)
Dam Safety

Communities and residents can take action to prepare for flood events and to lessen flood risk.

The Delaware Homeowner’s Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards describes actions that homeowners can take to protect their properties from flooding.

The Delaware Silver Jackets is an interagency collaboration that allows for greater facilitation and communication regarding flood risk identification, risk communication, flood hazard mitigation, the promotion of sound floodplain management practices, and addressing other natural hazards that threaten Delaware.