Flood Protection Information
Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA)
Certain lands in the City of Vassar adjacent to the Cass River and the Moore Drain as well as several low-lying areas in the City have been identified as special flood hazard areas. A special flood hazard area is that portion of land subject to inundation by a flood and/or flood-related erosion hazards.
Maps of the Local Flood Hazard Area
Maps showing the SFHAs as identified on the Federal Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) are available in the reference section of the Bullard Sanford Memorial Library, at Vassar City Hall located at 287 E Huron Ave, and from the FEMA Flood Map Store on the FEMA website. City Staff can assist you in determining whether your property is located in one of the SFHAs. They can also help you with questions and forms necessary to request that FEMA remove your property from the SFHA. To obtain flood hazard (floodplain) information, call 989-823-8517.
Building permits are required for remodeling projects, repairs, replacements, new structures, additions, re-roofing, decks, driveways, sheds, pools and fences. A building permit must be obtained from the Building Department before beginning any construction. Some of these activities may not be permitted or may be restricted in scope if they will be located within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Other activities that may not normally require a permit such as grading or filling might be prohibited or restricted if they will take place within the SFHA. A permit from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) must be issued before grading and filling activities will be allowed within the SFHA. Call the City Hall at 823-8517 for specific requirements related to your project.
If an existing structure is located within a SFHA, there are restrictions as to how much the structure can be improved or reconstructed if damaged by fire or other means. This work is classified as a Substantial Improvement and the cost of any repair, reconstruction or improvement to the structure located in a SFHA is limited to 50% of the market value of the structure before the repair or improvements are begun and are counted cumulatively for a ten-year period beginning at the start of the first improvement. This is to assure that the flood insurance liability of a property that has been identified as prone to flooding does not increase substantially.
There are several ways to protect your home from flood damage. These options may include elevating your building above the flood level, elevating damage-prone components such as furnace and air conditioning units, dry floodproofing the building, wet floodproofing portions of the building to prevent damage, and others. One on one property protection advice is available by phone, in person at Vassar City Hall, or by on-site consultation with city staff via appointment.
There are also external websites that serve as excellent guides in assisting you in identifying your specific flooding problem and what methods are available for protection. Click on the links at right to access these sites.
Property owners in flood hazard areas are often unaware of the risk of floods and do not carry adequate flood protection insurance to cover potential losses. If you don’t have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. Homeowner’s policies do not cover damage from floods. However, because the City of Vassar participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy. The insurance is backed by the federal government and is available to everyone, even if your property has flooded before or is not indicated as being in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
For further information about flood insurance, click on the "Flood Insurance Information" link at left, watch the YouTube video at right, or view FEMA’s website.
Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, except fire. Most communities in the United States can experience some kind of flooding after spring rain, heavy thunderstorms or winter snow melts. Flash floods usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. Flash floods occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. For an up-to-date forecast of flood threats, check flood information on FEMA's website.
Flooding has caused the deaths of more than 10,000 people since 1900. Click on the link "Flood Safety Tips" at right to find some simple rules to remember to keep you and your family safe if a flood should affect you.