Flood Plain Question - Wisconsin

7 Replies

I'm looking at a property that backs up to the Fox River in Wisconsin. The River overflowed and flooded the town of Burlington this past summer following some heavy rains. The property's yard overlays the fringe of the river's flood plain and has been known to be under water, although the house sits higher and is far enough away from the river to avoid major problems. 

Are there any grading options or other strategies to protect the yard if the River spills its banks again? Or is  "you live by the river, expect flooding" the best that anyone can do?

@John Franczyk might be a good question for a contractor directly. Did you try having any excavators or grading companies come out for their opinion?

Originally posted by @John Franczyk :

I'm looking at a property that backs up to the Fox River in Wisconsin. The River overflowed and flooded the town of Burlington this past summer following some heavy rains. The property's yard overlays the fringe of the river's flood plain and has been known to be under water, although the house sits higher and is far enough away from the river to avoid major problems. 

Are there any grading options or other strategies to protect the yard if the River spills its banks again? Or is  "you live by the river, expect flooding" the best that anyone can do?

You need to research seawall or rip rap.  Keep in mind this will more than likely need DNR blessing aka your check book. So hire the proper contractor accordingly and get your money lined up.  Dont expect this to happen fast, as you know nothing happens fast when the state is involved. Enjoy!!!

I think I know which house you are looking at . If it is that house i was contemplating it prior to The flood. The neighboring house is newer and was built high with a brick retaining wall. I was thinking you might be able to do a small retaining wall outside the flood zone. I was never in the house but drove by a couple days later after the water receded and it looked the river probably reached the house and maybe the road which would probably render any wall useless at that time. If you do pursue it keep me updated if you don't mind. Barring another flood like that I think that property had potential. 

have you looked at the flood maps in the GIS? also pay the $10-15 to have your banker pull a flood cert. the question should be if you or a future buyer would need flood insurance for a mortgage. remember if you need flood insurance and its not owner occupied, (I.E. rental property)  when the flood insurance program transition completes the re will be zero subsidy for non owner occupied, so you will pay full risk, that $800/year people pay today will be going to $2500-$4K/year. huge affect on cashflow and resellability. 

I light of the recent storms and floods you can expect flood insurance rates to rise. Goverment subsidies are likly to dry up as FEMA just does not want people to build/live in flood zones. It's economically not sustainable. Flood zones are a major material defect and this will only grow in significance as cost of insurance goes up. Worst case the property may become unmarketable at some point. The unly viable play you have is to permanently take the house out of the flood plain, which means bringiong it to higher ground and getting it signed off by FEMA. Like Chad said, bring patience and your checkbook..

Great conversation, and please give me grace since this is my first jump in on Bigger Pockets. 

Scott and Marcus are very knowledgeable - yes it is likely that the subsidized rates that FEMA/NFIP has will go away in the not so near future causing premiums for flood insurance to rise within this program.Though the government option isn't the only option anymore and more "private flood insurance" options are coming online every day. This is great news for those properties that are in the high-risk flood zone, I would suggest that you do two thing flood mitigation (comes in many forms and sometimes you can get access to grants and loans to do the work) and transfer your risk through insurance, just make sure you are working with someone who is savvy in the emerging private flood market and NFIP you don't want to overpay if your agent writes the policy incorrectly and you don't want to buy a policy that an agent that doesn't specialize in flood insurance might sell which sounds good on price but really isn't coverage that will get you back to whole.

Last note every community has a FLOODPLAIN MANAGER a government job, I would suggest if you are going to do any mitigation work get their thoughts and council, they can also offer resources and contractors or surveyors that can make sure your mitigation is doing what you want that is routing the water away from your structures.   

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