Prior to developing plans to prepare for and manage the risk of floods, jurisdictions should assess the adequacy of adequacy of existing plans as well as the jurisdiction’s regulatory framework to support flood resiliency.
First, communities should review their comprehensive plan and official maps to ensure that their environmental protection plan (e.g., content related to environmental quality and natural resources) meets Delaware Comprehensive Plan checklist requirements. Comprehensive plan should be assessed to ensure that comprehensive strategies address stormwater and watershed management, wetlands protection, floodplain protection, water resource protection areas, climate change and sea level rise.
Next, communities should review their regulatory framework to ensure it is consistent with recommendations of the comprehensive plan and other specialized plans/strategies. Community floodplain regulations should be evaluated to determine if ordinances, regulatory standards, and enforcement processes provide adequate long-term flood risk reduction and minimize overall impacts of floods. To accomplish this, the jurisdiction’s floodplain and drainage standards should be compared to the minimum standards recommended by the Floodplain and Drainage Advisory Committee, resulting from Senate Bill 64. Ideally, communities should also consider options for higher regulatory standards that exceed minimum National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) regulations.
Communities should also assess and determine the adequacy of their current plans and regulations relative to recommended adaptation strategies and measures, as described within Delaware Coastal Program’s Preparing for Tomorrow’s High Tide: Recommendations for Adapting to Sea Level Rise in Delaware (Chapter 2). Four adaptation strategies may be considered:
- Protect – Building structures (e.g., walls, bulkheads, dikes, living shorelines, beach replenishment) to keep water away.
- Accommodate – Reducing flood damage by elevating homes, evacuating during storm events, and heeding high tides
- Avoid – Identifying at-risk areas and directing new development to less vulnerable areas through voluntary and regulatory measures
- Retreat – Removing structures permanently from vulnerable and flood-prone areas
The Adaptation Tool Kit: Sea Level Rise and Coastal Land Use, published by the Georgetown Climate Center, describes a range of planning, regulatory, spending, and tax and market-based tools that provide a basis for local government decision making on adaptation strategies and measures.
Lastly, IPA has developed a downloadable and printable Delaware Flood-Ready Communities: Plan and Policy Checklist. The checklist is designed to help communities evaluate the extent to which their jurisdiction has developed planning, regulatory, spending, ecosystem, economic, and community engagement tools aimed at enhancing a community’s flood readiness. Completing this checklist can help a community assess how well it is positioned to avoid, reduce, or recover from floods through a strong planning and regulatory framework.
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