Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.
However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days. But flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path. Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as when a levee is breached, but still can be destructive. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods.
Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying ground that appears harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk from this hazard.
Commerce Township is a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program which makes it possible for property owners to obtain federally, backed flood insurance and the Community Rating System which helps to reduce the cost of Flood Insurance to its Homeowners, We provide Flood Zone and Firm maps for Commerce Township and Elevation Certificates, they would need to be completed by an engineer.
This insurance is available to any landowner or tenant of insurable residential property or personal property. The actual cost of the insurance will vary depending upon the amount of coverage and the degree of flood hazard. We urge persons to purchase flood insurance to protect against flood loss. Commerce Township does not sell flood insurance; please contact your insurance agent.
Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover losses due to floods.
We urge persons to purchase flood insurance to protect against flood loss. Commerce Township is a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program, which makes it possible for our property owners to obtain federally, backed flood insurance. Commerce Township also participates in the Community Rating System to help reduce the cost of flood insurance to its homeowners. All federally backed loans require the purchase of flood insurance if your property is located in a flood hazard area zone.
If you want to know if a property is in the special Flood Hazard Area, check with our offices. We have a wealth of information on the Township’s Flood Insurance Rate Map, flood insurance, special rules for building in the floodplain, and ideas for protecting your property from flood damage. Please call the Building Department at 248-960-7060; with all your floodplain questions or stop by the Commerce Township Library, they have many references regarding flood map and flood proofing. Map Amendments letters are also kept on file in our offices. The Building Department also has copies of FEMA elevation certificates for buildings constructed in the floodplain.
Commerce Township Building Department responds to request and complaints from property owners who have a flood, sewer or drainage problem. After each visit the staff will write a letter that lists the cause of the problem and recommended solutions.
Floodplains play a valuable role in providing natural and beneficial functions to Commerce Township. Floodplains that are relatively undisturbed provide a wide range of benefits to both human and natural systems. These benefits provide aesthetic pleasure as well as function to provide active processes such as filtering nutrients, enhance wildlife habitats and erosion control.
The following common-sense guidelines can help you from the dangers of flooding:
- Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in cars than any where else. Do not drive around barriers
- Do not walk through flowing water. Currents can be deceptive. Six inches of water can knock you off your feet.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. If your house is about to be flooded, turn off the power at the service box. Electrical current can travel through water. Electrocution is the 2nd leading cause of death during floods.
- Be alert to gas leaks. Turn off the gas to your house before it floods. If you smell gas, report it to your gas company. Do not use candles, lanterns or open flames if you smell gas or are unsure if your gas has been shut off.
- Keep children away form the flood waters, ditches, culverts and storm drains. Flood waters can carry unimaginable items that have dislodged themselves. Culverts may suck smaller people into them rendering them helpless.
- Clean everything that has been wet. Flood water will be contaminated with sewage and other chemicals which pose severe health threats.
- Look out for animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their home may seek shelter in yours.
- Do not use gas engines, such as generators or charcoal fires indoors during power outages. Carbon monoxide exhaust can pose serious health hazards.
Property Protection Measures
If your property is susceptible to flooding, there are many flood damaged reduction measures you can employ:
- Watertight seals can be applied to brick and block walls to protect against low-level flooding.
- Utilities such as heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and other major appliances can be elevated to higher floors in the structure or on raised platforms.
- Temporary measures such as moving furniture and other valuables to higher floors or sandbagging exterior opening will also help.
- Elevating or relocating the entire structure may also be a feasible option.
Flood Plain Requirements
All development within the 100-year floodplain (not just construction of buildings, but filling, excavation, etc.) is required to obtain permit. Application must be made prior to doing any work in a floodplain area. Please contact the Charter Township of Commerce Building Offices to receive all the information you will need to order to properly develop in the floodplain at (248) 960-7060. You may report any illegal development activities to the above number as well.
If you do not have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. Flood insurance is only available to those participating communities in the national Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Because of our floodplain management programs that attempt to protect us from the multiple flooding hazards, Commerce Township is part of the NFIP and thus, residents are able to obtain flood insurance. Additionally, because the Township participates Propein FEMA’S CRS program, flood insurance premiums are discounted.
Be sure to check your policy to ensure you have adequate coverage. Usually, these policies cover the building structure, but not the contents. Contents coverage can also be obtained by asking. There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance coverage becomes effective. Plan ahead; do not wait until a flood is predicted before purchasing flood insurance.
If you are building inside the flood plain, the purchase of flood insurance in mandatory if using a federally regulated/insured bank for a loan.
Drainage System Maintenance
As simple as it may sound, simply keeping smaller ditches and streams free of debris can dramatically improve the run-off capacity of low-lying areas, as well as greatly reduce the occurrence blockage that significantly contributes to flooding. It is illegal to dump materials into a required waterway and violators may be fined. If you see someone in the act of dumping or see debris in one of our watercourses, please contact the Township Office at (248) 960-7060.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – If you should require further or more detailed information regarding flood-related issues in Commerce Township here are some additional sources: