Flooding

retroFIT (Floodproofing) Program

retroFIT (Floodproofing ●  Improvements ● Together), is an element of Mecklenburg County's flood mitigation efforts. The purpose of the retroFIT program is to offer financial and technical assistance to owners that undertake flood damage reduction measures for existing buildings in the regulated floodplain. 
 
Financial grants are available to reimburse 75-95% of eligible expenses for qualified floodproofing projects. The program is intended to assist floodplain property owners who may not be currently served by other mitigation efforts (e.g. creek restoration/mitigation projects and buyout programs) and are at risk for future flood losses.

Who qualifies?

Property owners in the FEMA floodplain whose dwelling can be modified to reduce or prevent future flood damages may be eligible. Qualified property owners receive technical assistance throughout the grant application process. Complete statutory eligibility requirements are available. However, users can quickly verify their eligibility to apply by entering their property information below: (Click here for mobile or having trouble viewing eligibility form).

This program was approved by the Mecklenburg County Board of County Commissioners and first launched in October 2015.

retroFIT Program Synopsis

  • NC Legislature passed NCGS 153A-274.1 in June 2014 to allow Mecklenburg County use storm water utility fees to implement flood damage reduction techniques that result in improvements to private property.
  • Total 2016/2017 program funding: $250,000 for approved projects within the FEMA floodplain.
  • Residential and commercial property owners with buildings in the floodplain are eligible to apply.
  • The retroFIT program grants to cover at least 75% or more of eligible mitigation project costs.

​Types of Projects Funded

There are myriad of means to floodproof a structure, all of which depend on the type of risk of flooding for a particular property. The following is a list of approved methods eligible for retroFIT grant funding.

Structure Elevation consists of physically raising the lowest finished floor of an existing structure to an elevation above the Flood Protection Elevation (FPE). Elevation may be achieved by a variety of methods including piles, posts, and columns, or elevating on fill. The new structure must be fully compliant with floodplain regulations and building codes: foundations must be designed to properly withstand all loads; the elevated structure must be properly anchored to the foundation; and utilities must be elevated above the FPE.


Structure Relocation involves moving a structure to a location outside the floodplain. The property remains in private ownership. The structure owner bears the cost of acquiring a new parcel for the structure.  The grant would fund the structure relocation costs.      



Wet Floodproofing involves modifying of a  structure to allow exposure to flood water without the structure experiencing  significant damage. For example, a crawl space would be vented to allow water to enter and exit thus preventing excessive hydrostatic pressure.  Fiberglass insulation and other unsuitable materials are replaced with flood resistant varieties. Wet floodproofing may be combine with equipment elevation (see below) to provide more complete protection.

Dry Floodproofing involves making an area watertight to prevent floodwater from entering the structure. The walls must be made watertight with waterproof coatings, impermeable membranes, and/or supplemental layers of concrete or masonry. Any windows, doors, or other openings must be equipped with permanent or removable shields. Water and sewer lines must be equipped with backflow preventer valves. All mechanical and electrical equipment must be flood protected either by a floodproofing enclosure or by elevating. Dry flooding is not an acceptable technique for residential structures.

Equipment Elevation Protecting service equipment involves elevating, relocating, or protecting in place. Service equipment installed outside the structure or in a full height basement can be raised on pedestals or platforms. Service equipment located in a basement, crawlspace, or other area below the flood level can be relocated to an upper floor, attic, or higher ground. If elevating and relocation are not possible, protecting service equipment in place may be done with low floodwalls and shields, and anchors and tie downs for aboveground and underground storage tanks.

Abandon Basement Abandoning finished living space in a walkout basement and filling involves raising the lowest finished floor of an existing structure by converting the finished basement to crawlspace. This may be achieved by abandoning the basement and filling to create a crawlspace. Fill would be needed around the exterior perimeter of the foundation. The structure must be modified to allow filling in the basement.

Demolition (including partial) Structure demolition involves razing a flood-prone structure. The retroFIT program will fund demolition of the building and the removal and proper disposal of the debris from the property.


Award Process

Qualified applicants will receive professional technical assistance throughout the grant application process. The RetroFIT Program consists of three phases – the Application Phase, Review and Assistance Phase, and Approval and Implementation Phase. 

As part of the Application Phase, and throughout the year, CMSWS will reach out to floodplain property owners to increase awareness about the program. Property owners will be able to choose the floodproofing improvement(s) they hope to make as part of an Owner Interest Application. CMSWS will offer assistance to owners if they need help determining which of the flood damage reduction techniques would be effective in reducing future damage.

The Review and Assistance Phase will allow CMSWS to provide owners technical assistance and determine if the proposed project is viable.  CMSWS will also determine whether improving the storm water system is not practically feasible or cost effective, and the improvements to private property are the minimum necessary to accomplish the storm water benefit. After CMSWS works with the owner and determines the project is viable, the owner will be required to submit formal Grant Application.

The Approval and Implementation Phase will include the selection of projects for funding, approval by the Storm Water Advisory Committee, and the execution of a contract between the owner and the County allowing the mitigation project to be successfully implemented by the property owner.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is “floodproofing”?
Floodproofing is making modifications to a house/building that will reduce flood damage.  Floodproofing projects can reduce post-flood expenses, speed up recovery, and potentially reduce flood insurance rates.  However they do NOT prevent flooding nor completely eliminate flood damage.

Who is eligible to apply for a retroFIT grant?
RetroFIT grants are currently only available to property owners with a habitable building in the mapped floodplain.  It’s aimed to reduce flood damage to homes and business that are not in full compliance with the floodplain regulations.

Why is the County giving retroFIT grants to floodplain owners?
In most cases, flood reduction projects along larger creeks (mapped as floodplains) are not feasible or cost effective.  Flooding occurs naturally in these areas where many older homes and businesses are located.  In cases where floodplain buyouts are not imminent, the County is assisting owners in making their building more “fit” to resist flood damage.

How often will retroFIT grants be offered?
If funded, grants will be available at least once per year. If all the funding is not committed after the initial application period, grants may continue to be offered during the year on a first come first serve basis.

What will a retroFIT grant pay for?
There are 7 types of projects allowed under the retroFIT program.  Allowed expenses vary by the type of project and will be specified prior to award.  Generally the grant will only fund work that is the minimum necessary to successfully complete the floodproofing work.  Owners may fund other upgrades or aesthetic improvements on their own.  RetroFIT will NOT fund any projects that remedy improvements completed in violation of the floodplain regulations.

What will I have to contribute?
Every grant requires a property owner cost share typically 25% of eligible expenses. Lower cost shares of 5-20% are available based upon 1) the tax value of your property, and 2) the owners’ enrollment in the County Tax Assessor Low Income Homestead Exclusion or the Disabled Veterans Homestead Exclusion programs.  In addition to a financial contribution, the applicant/owner is responsible for hiring the contractor to complete the work.

Will I have to pay for all the work before being reimbursed?
In most cases, no.  The County can NOT make any payments for portions of work that is not complete, or for deposits/advances to a contractor. In those cases, you will need to pay up front. The Countyhas the option to make payments after the entire project is complete or at substantial milestones that can be visually verified.

Where can I get funding for my share of the retroFIT grant?
Unlike other home improvements, finding funding for floodproofing projects is challenging.  Here are options to pursue:
    Cash savings
  •     Home equity line of credit or loan
  •     HUD 203K loan program (some floodproofing techniques are eligible)
  •     Flood insurance "ICC" coverage if your building has been Substantially Damaged by a flood

Are there tax implications to accepting a retroFIT grant?
Each person’s tax situation will vary.  Because the grant is a “benefit”, property owners will receive a 1099-G from the County for any grant funds received.  We recommend you consult a tax advisor prior to accepting the grant.

How long will it take to get approval?
Timeframe for approval will vary from an average of 45-120 days.  It will depend on the complexity of the project and responsiveness of the applicant/owner.  All retroFIT grants must be approved by the Storm Water Advisory Committee (SWAC) which meets the 3rd Thursday of each month.

Am I required to sign anything?
Yes.  Upon approval, the owner is required to sign a grant agreement with the terms and project requirements.  In addition the owner will sign a flood mitigation easement to ensure the floodproofing work will not be altered/removed.

Can I sell my property after the improvements are made?
Yes, however, there may be financial implications. If the grant is less than $2,300 OR the property is sold more than 5 years after completion, there is no impact. If the grant is more than $2,300 AND the property is sold within 5 years of completion, the owner is required to reimburse the County based upon the value appreciation since the grant up to the grant amount.

I made flooding improvements on my property prior to the grant being offered. Can I apply for reimbursement for repairs/modifications and improvements made prior to this grant being offered?
No. Legislation creating the retroFIT program does not allow for retroactive reimbursements for expenses incurred prior to grant deadline and award.

Contact
Email any additional questions to floodinfo@mecklenburgcountync.gov and put retroFIT in the subject line.