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Floodplain Information

Community Rating Service (CRS) Annual Recertification Package

As part of Orange County's ongoing floodplain management efforts, Orange County is a participant in the Community Rating Service (CRS) program. This program provides potential savings to local residents on flood insurance premiums through the County's adherence to programmatic requirements and guidelines.

As part of our participation within this program, the County is required to demonstrate those program 'activities' we are engaging in to satisfy CRS requirements. These 'activities' include:

  1. The maintenance of databases on properties within the floodplain,
  2. Restricting development within identified flood prone areas,
  3. Public outreach and education,
  4. The maintenance of elevation certificates for flood prone property, and
  5. Requiring the incorporation of flood hazard mitigation techniques when building structures.

The CRS program requires that participating entities provide an annual public notification of the County's efforts with respect to our floodplain management and hazard mitigation program as well as submit documentation denoting which program 'activities' we are seeking credit for.

Staff has recently completed an annual re-certification package, which can be found here: 2012 CRS Annual Recertification Package


Floodplain Management (link to)

  • Administrative Procedures Regarding the Application of Flood Damage Prevention
  • Application Forms
  • Elevation Certificate Archives
  • Ordinance
  • Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Proposed Floodplain Regulations

Eno River

Letters to:

Topics you should know and understand:

Other links for information:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has established its own homepage at, and the Cooperating Technical Partner, The State of North Carolina has its own website at

  • Local Flood Hazards.  After a particularly severe hurricane or nor’easter has passed through the Piedmont region, we have experienced heavy flooding along our streams and rivers.  Often debris becomes trapped under bridges and culverts.  This blockage backs floodwaters up even more, often up to four feet or more deep.  Over the past thirty years we have experienced six major hurricanes:
    1. Diane in 1984,
    2. Gloria in 1985,
    3. Bertha in 1996
    4. Fran in 1996,
    5. Bonnie in 1998, and
    6. Floyd in 1999.


Of these Fran was the worst with estimated flood levels somewhere between a 100- and a 500-year flood along several streams.  Floods are dangerous.  Even though they seem to be moving slowly, moving water as shallow as two feet can knock a grown man off his feet and float a car.


If you live along or near the Eno River, the Little River, Morgan Creek or New Hope Creek, you may have experienced these high water times.  To find out if your property is subject to flooding, please visit the County Interactive GIS Homepage.


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  • Flood Safety. Here are some tips to remember during flood conditions:
    1. Do not walk through flowing water.  Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during flash floods.  Currents can de deceptive.  Six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.  If you walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.
    2. Do not drive through a flooded area.  More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.  Do not drive around road barriers.  The road or bridge may be washed out.
    3. Stay away from power lines and electrical wires.  The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water.  Report downed power lines to the Piedmont Electric or Duke Power and to the County Emergency Management office.
    4. Have your electricity turned off by the utility company.  Some appliances, such as television sets, keep electrical charges even after they have been unplugged.  Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.
    5. Look out for animals, especially snakes.  Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours.  Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals.
    6. 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.
    7. Be alert for gas leaks.  Use a flashlight to inspect for damage.  No not smoke or use candles, lanterns, or an open flame unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.

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  • Flood Insurance:  If you do not have flood insurance, talk with your insurance agent.  Homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage from flooding.  However, because Orange County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy.  This insurance is backed by the federal government and is available to everyone, even for properties that have been flooded before.


Some people have purchased flood insurance because the bank required it when they got a mortgage or home improvement loan.  Usually these policies just cover the building’s structure and not the contents.  During the kind of flooding that happens here in Orange County, the furniture and house contents can also be damaged.

At present there are 70 flood insurance policies in effect throughout the unincorporated portions of Orange County.  If you are covered, double check that the building coverage is adequate and make sure you have content coverage.  Even if you think you have covered all your bases flood-wise, the next flood could be worse than Fran was.  Flood insurance covers all surface flooding.  Please do not wait to the next hurricane to buy flood insurance.  There is a thirty-day waiting period before the policy takes effect.  Contact your insurance agent for more information on rates and coverage.


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  • Property Protection Measures:  There are several different ways to protect a building from flood damage.  One way is to keep the water away by regarding your building is to site it outside of the floodplain and stream buffer.  The Planning Department can provide you with information on floodplains and stream buffers.


Another opportunity is to retrofit the crawl space under your house.  First, relocate any water heater, central air unit, or electrical fuse box from the crawl space to some other place in the house or attached garage.  Next determine the location and number of hydrostatic vents that will be needed.  The bottom of such venting cannot higher than one foot above the natural grade.  The total vented area cannot be less than one square inch for every one square foot of crawl space wall subject to flooding.  No less than two vents on different walls subject to flooding are required.



Hydrostatic pressure from floodwaters is a major cause of damages to residences.  These vents serve to equalize the pressures on the walls by allowing floodwaters to move freely both into and out of the crawl space.



Another approach would be to elevate the house above the base flood elevation.  This method can become pricey, but in specific situations may work.



These opportunities are termed flood proofing.  More information is available at the Orange County Planning Department.  Please note that any alteration to your property and building on your property requires a building permit from the Planning and Inspections Department.



If you know that flooding is immanent, you should shut off the gas and electricity and move valuable contents out of harms way.  You may not receive much of a warning, so a detailed checklist prepared in advance would help ensure that you will not forget anything.

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  • Map of Orange County Flood Hazards:  You can use the Orange County Interactive GIS to locate your property.  Just click on the floodplain overlay and you will see if your property is subject to flooding.

Should you need more detailed flood data, please feel free to contact the local Floodplain Manager in the Orange County Planning and Inspections Department by telephone at 919 245 2577, by email at, or in person at 131 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278 any time from Monday to Friday during normal business hours (8:00 am to 5:00 pm.


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  • Floodplain Development Permit Requirements:  A Floodplain Development Permit is a required document for any disturbance within the floodplain prior to the starting any development activity, including, but not limited to the clearing of land, building fences, constructing a barn or shed, installing a road or driveway, or repairing or expanding an existing house or building.  No new structures are allowed in the floodplain.


The permit form can be found on this website.  If you need additional clarification or have more questions, please feel free to contact the Floodplain Manager by telephone at 919-245-2577, by emai at, or in person at 131 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278 any time from Monday to Friday during normal business hours (8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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  • Substantial Improvement and/or damage requirements:  Should you wish to make improvements to your existing house or buildings, you may have to follow the County standards for substantial improvements or substantial repair to the structure.


Substantial improvement is any combination of repairs, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, taking place during any one year period whereby the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement.  This term includes structures, which have incurred substantial damage, regardless of the actual repair work performed.  The term does not, however, include either any correction of existing violations of State or Orange County health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the Orange County code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions, or any alteration of a historic structure provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a historic structure.


Substantial damage is damage of any origin sustained by a structure during any one year period whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.  Substantial damage also means flood-related damage sustained by a structure on two separate occasions during a 10-year period for which the cost of repairs at the time of each such flood event, on the average, equals or exceeds 25 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.



If you need additional clarification or have more questions, please feel free to contact the Floodplain Manager by telephone at 919-245-2577, by email at, or in person at 131 West Margaret Lane, Hillsborough, North Carolina 27278 any time from Monday to Friday during normal business hours (8:00 am to 5:00 pm.

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  • Drainage System Maintenance:  Any County assistance efforts depend on your cooperation.  Here is how you can help:
    1. Do not dump or throw anything into the ditches or streams.  Dumping in our ditches and streams is a violation of Orange County Ordinances. Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels and culverts.  A plugged channel cannot carry water and when it rains the water has to go somewhere.  Every litter bit contributes to flooding somewhere.
    2. If your property is next to a ditch or stream, please do your part and keep the channel banks clear of brush and debris. 
    3. If you see others dumping or debris in a ditch or stream please report it to us at 919-245-2575.
    4. Always check with the Building Department before you build on, alter, regrade, or fill on your property.  A permit may be required to ensure that projects do not cause flood problems on other properties.
    5. If you see building or filling without a County building permit posted, contact the Planning Department at 919 245 2575.
    6. Check out the flowing information on flood proofing, flood insurance and flood safety.

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