Frequently Asked Questions

Flooding – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)                         

How will the newly elevated roads transition to my driveway and property?

The City is committed to meeting with each of the property owners on a case-by-case basis in regards to planned construction to elevate roads in their neighborhood. The project team will determine how much your driveway will need to be gently sloped from the right of way line at the rate of 1 foot vertical per each 7 feet horizontal. Special exceptions are being made in certain conditions that exist such as sidewalks and landscaping.  If the latter exist, then modifications will be made.

Will elevating the roads flood my property?  

The street improvement projects are designed to capture and manage all water within the public right of way.  If the present drainage from private property flows to the street, when the street is raised, this water will have to  change the direction of flow to other locations on the private property.  Water will not flow from the elevated City street into private property.

Will elevating the roads impact flood insurance? 

Elevating roadways is one of many positive steps a community can take to mitigate risks and increase their resilience to natural hazards. Once completed, the elevations associated with the roadways can be taken into account in modeling applied to FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM), potentially changing modeling results that support the hazards depicted on the maps. Currently, FEMA is updating these maps in Miami-Dade County, including the City of Miami Beach. Completed work will be incorporated, as possible, into the ongoing modeling. Future changes, or changes unable to be incorporated due to timing issues, can be incorporated through the FEMA Letter of Map Change process. Any change in Base Flood Elevation, regardless of its origin, will impact the flood insurance rating, which is done on an individual structure basis taking into consideration a number of flood risk factors.  We expect draft maps for comment by 2018 and final maps by 2021. The City will make sure that FEMA has the best and latest available data before the maps are finalized. Existing maps are located here: 

What is the City doing to reduce your personal flood insurance premiums?

The City participates in the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System, and is in the top performance tier of all Miami-Dade County cities.  Our score currently saves residents 20% on their flood insurance premiums – an estimated $6 million annually.  This equates to $136 in savings for the average $527 premium.  We strongly encourage you to obtain flood insurance, as 93% of existing buildings on Miami Beach are in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as defined by FEMA.  The most effective way to reduce the cost of flood insurance is for the first finished floor of a property to be above the FEMA Base Flood Elevation (BFE).  For more information about flood insurance rates, we advise you to contact your flood insurance agent.

What can I do to help prevent flooding on my property?

Elevating roads does NOT mean you are at increased flood risk.  On the contrary, your flood risk is reduced because of the new advanced drainage system designed to remove storm water from the public right of way. However, as a property owner in a floodplain community like Miami Beach, there are available options to reduce the risk of flood damage to your property.   Similar to reducing the risk of hurricane damage through home improvements, such as hurricane impact windows and shutters, there are several  retrofitting  options that can be  explored:

Wet flood proofing makes uninhabited parts of your building resistant to flood damage when water is allowed to enter during flooding. This retrofitting method is only appropriate for uninhabitable areas such as garages and limited storage areas.

Using flood resistant materials, such as concrete or tile as opposed to wood, can reduce damage and make cleanup quick in the case of water entering your home or garage.

Dry-flood proofing is sealing your building to prevent flood waters from entering. This retrofitting method is good alternative when a non-residential building cannot be elevated. In order to obtain the same flood insurance rating as a building that would be elevated to Design Flood Elevation, the building must be dry-flood proofed to 1 foot above BFE (Base Flood Elevation). 

Flood wall protection
 means constructing barriers to prevent flood waters from entering your property. 

Increasing the height of your lowest livable space can reduce flood risk. 
Elevation means adjusting the lowest floor of a building, equipment and appliances above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).   This can mean adapting your floor elevations wherever possible. In addition, you can raise mechanical, electrical, and plumbing without elevating an entire building to reduce the risk of flood damage.  This is the most effective way to protect buildings against flood events.

Landscaping design and grading can help retain water onsite. Increasing the amount of pervious area on your property by removing unnecessary pavement can increase the amount of water that can be captured naturally. Also, selecting native, salt tolerant vegetation is recommended. See this Florida Friendly Plants Guide:

How can I tie my storm water infrastructure into the City’s drainage efforts?

Currently this is not an option for private property owners but we are exploring options to provide our residents with additional water management options in the future.

How can I pay for flood risk reduction retrofits? 

The public infrastructure upgrades are a commitment to investing in the City of Miami Beach to reduce flood risk.  This is a significant advantage to you, as homeowner, in protecting your property values and reducing risk.  The City does not pay for renovations or retrofits on private property.  Similar to hurricane retrofitting, it is your responsibility as a property owner to invest as you see fit.  Like most coastal cities, Miami Beach’s older housing stock built with a lower finished flood elevation will be in transition for years to come.

How urgent is it for me to retrofit my property to reduce flood risk?

There is not an easy, short answer for this.  Similar to any other home renovations or retrofits, that is a personal decision.  However, knowing your home’s elevation, and past history of any flooding issues will help you make that determination.  We want you to make an informed decision about your property.  To obtain your unique elevation information, you can obtain an elevation certificate; more details on this are located in question 10.

What about sea level rise?

Sea level rise is not immediate.  We know there are global and local projections that the sea level is rising, however, the City is preparing for this through elevating roads and implementing storm water pumps, and requiring higher elevation for new or significant construction.   Any personal property improvements to reduce flood risk will also reduce risk in the future as sea levels rise over time.  More information : Unified Sea Level Rise Projections.

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