Flood Protection Information
The main cause of flooding in South Bethany is the Atlantic Ocean and what is known as its “storm tides”. These are generated by off-shore disturbances and “Nor’easters”. These types of storms are more prevalent along this stretch of coastline than hurricanes.
Along the ocean front, rising tides will breach the dune line along Ocean Drive. First at the south end of town and work its way north. Flood waters will then proceed, westward, down the lateral, or east/west streets, from Ocean Drive to US Rt. 1.
On the west side of Town, which is on Assawoman Bay, Jefferson Creek will rise approximately two to four feet. This will inundate the area known as York Beach/ Paradise Shores to the south and eventually proceed north following Assawoman Canal, and east to US Rt. 1. The floodwaters will continue north and east, raising the level of the Town’s canals, until reaching the higher area known as Sandpiper Pines. This is in the area of Evergreen Drive and US Rt. 1.
Although these floodwaters are not deep, they can still cover streets and yards, as well as cars, garages, basements and lower floors. Flooding comes with little warning and at all times should be considered dangerous. Even though it appears to move slowly, floodwaters two feet deep can knock a person off their feet and float a car. You may feel your property is high enough because it was not flooded recently. However, it can still be flooded in the future because the next flood event could be worse. If you are in the floodplain, there is a good chance that your property will be damaged by floodwaters. This flier will give you some ideas as to what you can do to protect yourself.
Town Flood Services: First, check your flood hazard classification. Flood maps and protection classifications are available at the Town of South Bethany Offices. There you will find information on flood levels, past flood damage, maps, and listings for qualified architects, engineers and contractors.
Upon request, the Code Enforcement Constable (CEC) will visit your property to review its potential flood problem and explain ways to minimize flood damage. Contact the CEC at (302) 539-3653, Ext. 211. This service is FREE.
What You Can Do: The efforts of the Town depend on your cooperation and assistance.
Here are a few thoughts on how you can help:
- Do not dispose of debris/litter into the canals. Dumping into the canals is a violation of Town ordinance 114.5. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and clog channels. A clogged channel will not allow water to pass. Remember, every piece of litter contributes to the severity of the flooding.
- If your property borders a canal, keep the banks clear of brush and debris.
- Should you notice someone dumping trash or debris in a canal, notify the CEC or the SB Police Department immediately.
- Always check with the CEC before you build on, alter or regrade your property. A permit is needed from the Town, and possibly DNREC (state of Delaware), to ensure it will not affect your neighbors or the surrounding waterways.
- Should you notice site work or construction being done without a SB permit, please notify the CEC immediately at (302) 539-3653 ex 211.
- Please note the following information concerning floodproofing, flood insurance and flood safety.
Floodproofing: There are several ways to protect a structure from flood damage. One way is by regrading your lot away from your building but not onto your neighbor’s property.
Another approach is to raise your house above flood levels or BFE (Base Flood Elevation). This information can be found at the Town offices.
Flood Insurance: If you don’t have flood insurance contact your insurance agent. Homeowner’s insurance policies usually do not cover damage from flooding. However, because SB participates in the national Flood Insurance Program, you may be able to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. This program is backed by the Federal government and available even for those properties that have been flooded.
Some policies were purchased because it was required by the lending institution when the owners obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. Normally, these policies cover only the building structure but not the contents. In this area there is the possibility of damage to both. If you have obtained coverage some time ago, check to make sure the amount covers the current values. Flood insurance covers all surface flooding.
Flood Safety: If you are expecting flooding, shut off the gas and electrical services and move valuable contents to higher floors. It is unlikely early warnings will be given. A detailed checklist, made in advance, will help ensure everything is covered. Also:
- Do not walk through flowing water. Currents can be deceptive. If you must walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to insure proper footing, balance and solid ground.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. Most people drown in their vehicles. Do not drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
- Avoid power lines and electrical wires. The second highest group of fatalities, due to flooding, is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to your local utility or Town emergency management personnel.
- If possible, have your electricity turned off by the local utility company. Some appliances, such as televisions, hold electrical charges after they’ve been unplugged. Don’t use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned and dried.
- Be alert for gas leaks. Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Do not smoke or use open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.
- Look out for small animals and reptiles. They may have been flooded out of their homes and seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to turn debris over and remove them.
- Look before you step. After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be very slippery.
For more information on flood insurance, see http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/.
The Delaware Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards can be downloaded at: