An innovative program presented by the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission urges property owners to take the vital steps necessary to avoid devastation from the most common natural disaster on the planet — rising flood waters.

“Fight the Flood” – available at fightthefloodva.com – connects property owners in the localities that make up Virginia’s Middle Peninsula with the following:

- A one-stop shop to seek help in addressing flooding-related issues on properties;

- Access to a team of businesses uniquely qualified to address those flooding-related issues;

- And financial assistance through loans and grants (many of which are first come, first served) to support the evaluation, design and construction of solutions to prevent flood damage.

“The connection is the most important piece of this entire program,” said Lewie Lawrence, Executive Director of the Middle Peninsula Planning District Commission. “We hear time and time again that people know they have a flooding problem but they have no idea who to call, and if they do call someone, they don’t get a call back. At the end of the day what we are doing is being a little bit like the Ghostbusters of rural coastal Virginia. Who you gonna call when you have a flood question? Fight the Flood.”

Some property owners know they need help protecting their homes (many of them are historic and require unique mitigation approaches) and shorelines from flood waters. Others do not.

Some property owners know where to go for help. Others do not.

Some property owners know that funding exists to help them shore up and protect their property. Others do not.

“And that’s where Fight the Flood comes in,” Lawrence said. “We want to protect homes and shorelines against rising water and storm surge by providing access to grants, low interest loans, parametric insurance and making it easier for citizens to apply for FEMA funding and the Commonwealth’s newest program, the Community Flood Preparedness Fund.

“We want to educate the community about why they should protect their properties and homes, help them find the right contractors to help them do that, and connect them with potential funding to make the projects more approachable and doable.”

All of that ultimately benefits the property owners, the business community who serves them, and the localities.

“When we shore up our properties, we protect our tax base,” Lawrence said. “When we support our property owners and our business owners, we protect the most vital asset our region has – its people.”

The Commonwealth of Virginia has determined that nature based flood mitigation projects, such as living shorelines are the Commonwealths shoreline protection priority which provide both water quality and storm protection, which also protects homes and the localities’ tax base.

Mike Vernon, founder and CEO of Flood Mitigation Hampton Roads, said “We are excited to be part of the program. We have designed over 1,000 mitigation projects. Our goal is to help reduce the negative consequences of flood insurance costs and the impact of flooding in general. Fight the Flood is a great concept.”

The companies participating in the Fight the Flood program include Vernon, a specialist in analyzing flood policies to reduce monthly premiums, as well as experts in designing living shorelines and other nature-based shoreline and erosion control approaches.

“We will soon be able to offer contractors for turn-key mitigation solutions where the homeowner makes one contact and the flood team handles every aspect of the project, reducing cost and improving the quality of the project,” Lawrence said. “We encourage businesses who may be interested in participating in this program to also register and become part of the group that Fight the Flood can refer property owners to.”

A business registration form is also available on the website.

Although many families on the Middle Peninsula and across rural coastal Virginia have been spared major flood damage, Lawrence advises against waiting to purchase flood insurance.

Floods make up 90% of all natural disasters nationwide. Even minor flooding can degrade infrastructure and damage roads and building foundations. The intensity and frequency  of increased heavy rainfall coupled with rising sea levels make “nuisance” flooding a major threat. What’s known as “sunny day” flooding can result from high tides and wind.

The damage from just one inch of water can cost more than $25,000 in the average one-story house with 2,500 square feet. That adds up to $23,000 in house costs and more than $3,000 in personal-property costs.

No structure, home or business is safe from flooding, which can also present secondary problems, such as road and school closure, traffic interruptions and health and safety concerns related to the overwhelming incidences with sewer systems.

Homeowners and businesses without a flood insurance policy have no financial assistance available except for the relatively small number of federal grants from FEMA if their loss is in an area covered by a federal disaster declaration.

High-risk areas, including many parts of the Middle Peninsula, have an increased chance of experiencing a flood over the life of a 30-year mortgage.

While nothing can stop water from coming, the Fight the Flood program offers multiple options. Risk is about understanding that anywhere it can rain, it can flood.