City of Benton Harbor –
Floodplain or Special Flood Hazard Area Management
A river, stream, lake, or drain may on occasion overflow their banks and inundate adjacent land areas. The land that is inundated by water is defined as a floodplain. In Michigan and nationally, the term floodplain has come to be commonly understood as the land area having a 1% chance of being inundated by the overflow of water in any given year. (This was previously referenced as a 100-year flood with many believing it would happen once every 100 years, but this is not true; it could happen more or less often.)
Floodplain areas are important natural features because they give time for sediment to settle out of floodwaters, thereby keeping it out of water bodies. Floodplains often support wildlife habitat and are frequently used by humans.
The Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is that portion of land subject to inundation by a flood and/or flood-related erosion hazards.
How to determine if your property is in a Flood Hazard area
To determine if your property is within a FEMA flood hazard area, follow the link below to access an online portal provided by the FEMA Map Service Center to view preliminary map products for any State/County in the United States.
Alternatively, the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) panels for the City of Benton Harbor can be accessed below. Note that all documents depict a Preliminary Issue Date of December 10, 2019, except for the two noted below.
0104C – Unavailable
0106C – Unavailable
To generate a comparison map to review the proposed FIRM changes to a specific location, use the link below.
Other online viewing tools include the St. Joseph River Watershed Draft Flood Hazard Viewer, which be accessed here.
December 2020 Pending Map Changes through FEMA
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for studying and updating floodplain maps throughout the country. This information is found on the Federal Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). Within the maps there are different designations based on the flood risk.
On December 19, 2020 FEMA issued notice to the City of Benton Harbor that the December 19, 2019 Preliminary copies of the revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) and the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) for Berrien County were available for the 90-day appeal process.
FEMA Preliminary FIRM Map Appeals Process
If you have determined that your property is within a flood hazard area AND would like to submit an appeal to the preliminary map data, please note that ALL APPEALS MUST BE SUBMITTED THROUGH THE CITY OF BENTON HARBOR. DEADLINE FOR APPEALS IS FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 2021.
According to information from FEMA, they will review scientific or technical data received during the 90-day review period. Those with questions or wishing to submit scientific or technical data must contact/forward copies of the reports/studies to Abonmarche as defined below:
Who: Abonmarche Consultants
Address: 95 West Main Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
PLEASE PROVIDE NAME, ADDRESS, AND BASIS FOR TECHNICAL, SCIENTIFIC OR ELEVATION APPEAL. DEADLINE FOR APPEALS IS FRIDAY MARCH 5, 2021.
City Manager – Contact Information
City Manager: Ellis Mitchell
Address: 200 East Wall Street, Benton Harbor, MI 49022
What is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a Federal program enabling property owners in “participating communities” to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding. The insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to building and their contents caused by flood.
The first Flood Insurance Study (FIS) was created in 1976 and the City’s first FIRM was published in 1978. These documents were replaced by a new FIS and FIRMSs in 2006. The City of Benton Harbor is a “participating community” in the National Flood Insurance Program.