FOLEY, Ala. (WKRG) — The City of Foley is developing a resilient housing plan to prepare for floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters.
The plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.
According to Foley community development director Miriam Boone, the city is already third in the nation for the number of homes rated as fortified, which means they’ve been built to withstand hurricane-force winds.
In 2015, Foley adopted the Coastal Supplement Code. Since then, the city has grown rapidly.
“Growth has occurred so rapidly in the city of Foley right now about a third of the existing housing stock in the city of Foley has been built to that standard,” Allen Engineering planner Jay Estes said.
The resilient housing plan is being put together to help officials guide further development of the city and stay true to the code standards as it continues to grow.
Just four of the 24 zoning designations throughout the city do not allow homes, which gives the city flexibility as to where it can build more homes.
About 6.67% of Foley’s land is designated as floodplain by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. About 3.3% of the homes in the city are built in floodplains, according to Estes.
Estes also said funding from FEMA could allow the city to make these homes more resilient by elevating them. The city already requires new homes in floodplains to be built at least two feet above what is designated as the base flood elevation. That requirement exceeds FEMA’s minimum standard, according to Estes.
If those homes are unable to be elevated, funding could be available to purchase property susceptible to flooding and move those residents when necessary.
Still, areas of the city not in floodplains have still seen flooding after heavy rainfall over the years. Hurricane Sally caused flooding in 175 parcels not listed as vulnerable to flooding in 2020.
“This is land that is typically thought of as not being flood-prone. But in these two events we had about 400 houses that received flood damage,” Estes said. “So maybe those properties are not as high and dry as we originally thought they were.”
Estes said Foley could work with the Alabama Emergency Management Agency and FEMA to see which areas of the city may actually be in floodplains but weren’t identified until now.
This would allow homeowners in those areas to have better access to flood insurance and where development in Foley should go next.