After a catastrophic dam failure this summer in northeast Iowa, Delaware County is now applying to take part in the National Flood Insurance Program. According to FEMA, nearly 20,000 communities nationwide participate in the program by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage.

In exchange, federally-backed flood insurance is made available to homeowners, renters and business owners. Many Lake Delhi area residents pushed for the county to join the program. Delaware County Supervisor Shirley Helmrichs  says it was immediately discussed after the floods hit in late July.

Lake Delhi’s 92-year-old dam gave way July 24th, draining what was a popular nine-mile recreational lake and damaging or destroying up to 300 homes. According to FEMA, flood insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance. It reduces the costs of repairing flood damage to buildings and items inside.

FEMA says communities that implement floodplain management and property owners who buy flood insurance see the benefits of the program, as flood damage is reduced by a nearly a billion dollars a year. Also, buildings built in compliance with the program’s standards suffer about 80% less damage.

The Delaware County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, giving county residents the ability to move forward after the flood. “This will give people the choice, whether they’re going to buy flood insurance or not, it will provide different kinds of funding,” Helmrichs says. “It will not provide flood insurance retro to July 24th, but it will provide access to FEMA benefits retro to July 24th.”

Helmrichs says that’s a difference people need to understand. She says the residents who’ve already filled out their FEMA applications won’t have to do the paperwork again. The county board approved a 17-page Floodplain Management Ordinance to meet National Flood Insurance Program requirements. The board approved the second reading and since they received no concerns, they also waived the third and final reading.

The ordinance will go into effect September 22nd.

By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester