Reducing Flood Damage
The Hawaiʻi County Floodplain Management program works to reduce flood damage and assure the safety of our residents and visitors through compliance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Since 1971, much progress has been made in alleviating flood and drainage problems and establishing floodplain regulation in Hawaiʻi County. Our rivers, streams, watersheds and floodplains are dynamic and complex natural systems. FEMA has concluded that by adapting to a watercourse's natural function rather than trying to control floodwaters we improve our ability to reduce the loss of life and property.
When flooding does result in public or private losses, federal flood insurance is available because the County of Hawaiʻi participates in the NFIP, which enables residents and businesses to purchase flood insurance at relatively inexpensive rates.
The County’s Floodplain Management program is directed by Chapter 27 of the Hawaiʻi County Code (HCC) and reflects FEMA regulations in Title 44, specifically Parts 59 and 60. The HCC Chapter 27 also incorporates the updated 2004 Flood Insurance Study, which is available from the Department of Public Works.
The Flood Insurance Study for Hawaiʻi County details the severity of flood hazards and identifies critical floodplain areas. The flood boundaries for streams and the flood insurance zones and base flood elevation lines are delineated on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). These maps are the result of the Flood Insurance Study and have been incorporated into Hawaiʻi County's Floodplain Management program.
The County’s Floodplain Management program serves to promote public health, safety and general welfare; minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions. The HCC Chapter 27 works in concert with HCC Chapter 23 for subdivisions, HCC Chapter 5 for building, and HCC Chapter 10 for erosion and sediment control related to grubbing and grading.
Policies and standards of the County’s Floodplain Management program are outlined in the County of Hawaiʻi General Plan, under “Flooding and Other Natural Hazards". Additionally, preventive land use measures, warning systems and public education, flood control structural projects, repetitive loss buyout programs, and natural resource protection programs are outlined in the Hawaiʻi County Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. The plan’s goal is to minimize losses through controlled development and the retrofitting of existing structures within hazard areas.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with the Soil and Water Conservation Districts, also provides conservation programs to reduce and control surface water and sediment runoff for individual agricultural and conservation landholders.
For additional information about the County’s floodplain management program, contact the Floodplain Manager in the Public Works Department, 808-961-8327.