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Floodplain History

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In 1968 the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created through the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. As of August 2017, the program insured about 5 million homes (down from about 5.5 million homes in April 2010), the majority of which are in Texas and Florida.

Monongalia County currently has 142 policies in force (as of 9/30/2018) in its unincorporated areas, with 75 located in Morgantown, 9 in Star City, 6 in Westover, 3 in Blacksville, and 5 in Granville.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders on April 1, 1979. FEMA works to ensure affordable flood insurance is available to homeowners in flood plains, through the National Flood Insurance Program, and also works to enforce no-build zones in known flood plains and relocate or elevate some at-risk structures. Monongalia County is part of Region III (also includes PA, DE, MD, VA, and Washington DC).

Flood of 1985

Multiple storms during the period from October 31 through November 6 in 1985 caused extremely destructive flooding over large areas of West Virginia. Twenty seven river gauge stations (used to measure water surface elevations and discharge) recorded 100 year flood events, mostly along the Potomac and Monongahela river basins. As most of West Virginia's liveable land is along flood plains, the river flooding caused heavy damage in the state, mostly in the eastern portion. High waters washed away topsoil and thousands of trees, and over 13,000 homes and businesses were damaged or destroyed in the state. Damage was estimated at nearly $700 million, making it West Virginia's costliest flood, with 38 deaths. Twenty nine counties were declared disaster areas by President Reagan.

US General Accountings Office Report (1988), GAO/RCED-88-5

In his Disaster Assistance Report [pdf] Assistant Comptroller General J. Dexter Peach reviewed the flood of 1985 and issued a report stating that the response to West Virginia's November 1985 flood showed a need for improvements. Four key areas were addressed:  the extent of the state and local disaster planning and preparedness, the effectiveness of existing warning systems and planned improvements, the federal government's responsiveness to victim's needs, and the types and dollar amounts of assistance to flood victims. Although FEMA states that emergency guidance plans should be updated at least once every three years — about one half of the state's 56 jurisdictions had emergency plans that were dated before 1975. The state compared the 29 disaster counties' plans with FEMA's latest emergency preparedness, criteria and 20 were rated as poor or very poor. Further, from 1982 to the time of the report, only 23 of the 55 counties had participated in FEMA's program to improve local emergency operations.

Flood of 2016
In June 2016, torrential rains and flooding cause 44 of West Virginia's 55 counties underwent a state of emergency.  It was the third-deadliest flood on record in West Virginia. Only the Buffalo Creek flood in 1972 (when 125 died after a dam break) and a November 1985 flood (when 38 died from a combination of Hurricane Juan's remnants and another storm) killed more.

FIRM Maps 2019

The most recent updates to the Flood Insurance Maps was done in 2019. FEMA currently updates maps on a rotating basis based on where development is greatest and where the maps are the most outdated. 

Floodplain Ordinance Update 2019

The Floodplain Ordinance was updated in March of 2019.