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Natural Hazards & Disasters

Natural Hazard Mitigation

Situated at the head of a beautiful deep-water fjord surrounded by spectacular mountains, the Seward area is a series of river drainages and alluvial fans. Some lower grounds in the floodplain are delineated as flood hazard areas. Levees and bypass tunnels reduce flood-hazard risks and flood plain management ordinances further reduce the risks of injury or property damage.

Like all of coastal South-central Alaska, the Seward area is seismically active. Through various mitigation measures (seismic structural design, public education, and disaster preparedness) and a trained city-staff functioning in a nationally approved incident command structure, Seward has achieved the FEMA status of being a &quotdisaster-ready community."

Disaster Plans: Flood

Important Information Concerning Flooding Potential in Seward

Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs): Certain areas have been designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as Special Flood Hazard Areas. SFHAs are areas within the 100-year flood boundary as mapped by FEMA. A &quot100-year flood" refers to a flood level with a 1 percent or greater chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. There is a 26% chance that a structure located in an SFHA will be inundated by a 100-year flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage. In comparison, the risk of fire is approximately 5% in the same time period. Smaller floods have a greater chance of occurring in any given year and can still create a significant hazard to life and property. .

Local Flood Hazard: To find out the flood hazard of your property, or information on flood related questions, call the City Community Development Department at (907) 224-4048.

City Flood Service: If requested, the City staff will visit a property to review its flood problem and explain ways to stop flooding or prevent flood damage. Flood maps and flood protection references also may be available.

For information on selecting a qualified architect, engineer, or contractor, including filing a complaint for unsatisfactory performance, call the City Community Development Department at (907) 224-4048.

Flood Warning: If flooding occurs, the City will warn citizens through e-mails, radio, TV announcements and emergency officials. In some circumstances we will go door-to-door. Please cooperate if you are asked to evacuate your home. In case of a flood you should consider the following:

  • Know the flood warning procedures and plan escape routes to high ground or evacuation points
  • Monitor the level of water in the street or flood control channel
  • Stay tuned to radio and TV announcements for possible flood warnings
  • Turn off water and electricity in your home during flood emergencies turn off gas only if you smell gas
  • Be especially cautious at night

For additional information on the City's flood warning and emergency response plan contact the City Dispatch number at (907)224-3338.

Substantial Damage (SD): Substantially damaged structures (a structure damaged so that the cost of repairs equals or exceeds 49% of the structure's value before it was damaged) in the City of Seward must also meet the same floodplain construction requirements as new buildings. To find out more about these requirements, contact the City Community Development Department at (907) 224-4048.

Floodplain Development and Permit Requirements: Any development within the City of Seward is subject to federal and City's floodplain management requirements. Always check with the Building Department before you build on, alter, re-grade, or fill on your property. To report illegal floodplain development activity, call the City Community Development Department at (907) 224-4048.

Floor Elevation: New buildings in the City of Seward may be required to have their lowest floor elevation (excluding garage) flood proofed or raised a minimum of 1 foot above the base flood (100-year) elevation.

Substantial Improvement (SI): Substantially improved structures in the City of Seward must meet the same floodplain construction requirements as new buildings. SI is defined as any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds forty-nine (49) percent of the fair market value of the structure before the start of the new construction. Improvements to any structure within the SFHA are cumulatively tracked for 10 years.

Property Protection Measures: There are several ways to protect property from flood hazards. The following examples may or may not be economically feasible or practical for every situation:

  • Provide adequate drainage paths around structures on slopes.
  • Elevate or relocate electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, and appliances to an area that is less likely to be flooded.
  • Move essential items and valuables to the upper floors of your home if flooding is likely.
  • Keep materials such as sandbags, plywood, and plastic sheeting handy for emergency waterproofing.
  • Anchor the structure to prevent flotation, collapse or lateral movement.
  • Elevate homes so that the lowest floor is a minimum of 1 foot above the base flood elevation.

Flood Insurance: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) makes flood insurance available to everyone in the City. Renters can also purchase flood insurance to cover their possessions. For information about flood insurance, call your insurance agent or the NFIP customer service line at 1-800-638-6620.

Homes and business located within City of Seward's flood areas should be covered under a flood insurance policy as a condition of federally funded loans or mortgages.

Community Rating System (CRS): The NFIP created the Community Rating System (CRS) to promote flood awareness and reduce flood losses. The City of Seward is a participant of the program. As the result, the residents of the City of Seward who purchase flood insurance enjoy an automatic reduction of their insurance premiums.

Elevation Certificate (EC): An Elevation Certificate provides elevation information necessary to determine the proper insurance premium rate. If your house is at or above the base flood elevation, you could receive a substantial discount on your flood insurance premium by providing an EC to your insurance agent. For properties in flood Zone AO, an EC can be filled out by the property owner or the owner's representative. For all other flood zones, they have to be prepared by a surveyor or engineer. Copies of the form and instruction packet can be downloaded from FEMA's website at

Flood Information Contact Directory

City of Seward
Jackie C. Wilde , Community Development Planner
P.O. Box 167
Seward, Alaska 99664
(907) 224-4048

Seward/Bear Creek Flood Service Area
P.O. Box 1554
Seward, Alaska  99664
(907) 224-3340

City of Seward
Fire Department
Office of Emergency Services
P.O. Box 167
Seward, Alaska 99664
(907) 224-3445
City of Seward Community Library
P.O. Box 167
Seward, Alaska 99664

National Flood Insurance Program
(800) 427-4661

Certified Floodplain Manager
Division of Community Advocacy
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1770
Anchorage, AK 9501-3510
(907) 269-4583

City of Seward • P.O. Box 167, 410 Adams Street City Hall Building • Seward, Alaska 99664 • (907) 224-3331
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