I don't live near the coast, will I be affected?
You may be affected depending on your location. Some areas that are near waterways, canals, rivers, streams or creeks may be affected because storm surges can wreak havoc inland, many miles from a storm. Not just limited to coastal properties, storm surges from seawater traveling up stream and rivers can flood inland homes too. Go to the "Find my current and preliminary flood zone" blue button at the top of this page. Within that app, you may enter a specific address to see if your property will be affected.
Can I appeal the new flood map for my property/community?
Property owners may disagree with the preliminary maps. After the FEMA Open House, a public comment and appeal period of at least 90 days will be held to allow proposed technical revisions of flood modeling and mapping. Appellants will be responsible for identifying flaws in proposed modeling and errors in mapping and correcting them. (See Criteria for Appeals of Flood Insurance Rate Maps.)
Why are there multiple flood studies occurring in my community?
In the late 1990s through the mid-2000s, FEMA made a significant effort to convert paper maps into a digital format to increase their usefulness in flood risk analyses and associated flood risk mitigation efforts. In recent years, as part of the initiation of the Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program, FEMA is investigating entire watersheds instead of individual counties because this made the most sense scientifically. Floods do not stop at political boundaries.
Although new maps may have been issued recently, much of the underlying study information in coastal areas across the U.S. has not been updated for decades. In recent years, FEMA has initiated studies along the entire populated U.S. coastline because of the significant and sometimes dangerous flood risks along the coast. Where possible, FEMA has combined these studies, but in some cases studies have overlapped. FEMA requests your patience and support as we seek to better understand this country’s coastal flood risks, and equip communities and families with appropriate information so they may protect themselves from catastrophic loss.
What is a flood map?
See "What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map?"
What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), and how do I use it?
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) works with community leaders across the country to identify flood hazards and promote ways to reduce the impact of those and other hazards. A FIRM is a map created by the NFIP for floodplain management and insurance purposes. They are also referred to as flood maps. A FIRM will generally show a community’s base flood elevations, flood zones and floodplain boundaries. Together, they show the risk of flooding. High-risk zones, known as Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs, show where floodwaters will be in a flood that has a one percent chance of happening in any given year. Moderate- to low-risk zones are where the risk of that level of flooding is less than one percent per year. No matter where you live or work, some risk of flooding exists.
As a property owner/renter, you can use this map to get a reliable indication of what flood zone you're in. However, maps are constantly being updated due to changes in geography, construction and mitigation activities and meteorological events. Therefore, for a truly accurate determination, contact your insurance agent or company or your community floodplain manager. Learn more about FIRMs and your property’s unique flood risk using FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center.
What are flood zones?
Flood zones are land areas identified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Each flood zone describes that land area in terms of its risk of flooding for floodplain management and insurance purposes. Everyone lives in an area with some flood risk—it’s just a question of whether you live in a low-, moderate-, or high-risk area.
How are flood maps used?
Community officials use flood maps to help them understand and communicate the local flood risk, manage their floodplains, and require new and substantially-improved buildings to be built more safely and mitigate losses from future floods. These efforts make a safer community in which to live and work. Mortgage lenders use them to help determine a property’s flood risk and decide whether to require flood insurance as a requirement for a loan. Insurance professionals use the maps to determine a property’s flood risk and insurance cost. Developers and builders use them as part of their location siting and construction decisions. Residents and business owners use flood maps to learn about flood risk as they purchase property and investigate how best, financially and tangibly, to protect their property from flooding.
What is the Base Flood?
The category of a type of flood that has a one percent annual chance of occurring in any given year. This is commonly referred to as the 1% Annual Chance Flood. The base flood is the national standard used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and all Federal agencies for the purposes of requiring the purchase of flood insurance and regulating new development.
What is the Base Flood Elevation (BFE)?
The predicted level of flooding measured from mean sea level. The elevation that water is anticipated to rise to in the event of a 1% annual chance flood. Since this is the elevation water is expected to rise to, the first livable floor should be at or exceed BFE in order to avoid damage from flooding. Base Flood Elevations are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). This required elevation information is vital for new construction and some remodeling and renovation projects. Also, for flood insurance purposes, the relationship between the BFE and the structure's actual elevation (among other things) determines the flood insurance premium.
Why did FEMA choose the 1-percent standard?
The base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood standard was adopted for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) after various alternatives were considered. The standard constitutes a reasonable compromise between the need for building restrictions to minimize potential loss of life and property and the economic benefits of floodplain development. The Base (1-percent-annual-chance) Flood Elevation (BFE) has been adopted by the NFIP as the basis for floodplain management and flood insurance regulations
Why is the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) near my property different than the BFE near my neighbor’s property?
Even a small difference in the 1-percent-annual-chance water level or wave height can change a BFE from one whole foot to another. Larger differences in BFEs can result when:
The scale of the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) prevents mapping every whole foot BFE (flood zones would be too narrow to see on the FIRM) so BFEs are mapped two or more feet apart; and
In instances where wave run-up determines BFEs, changes in dune/bluff/structure slope can result in adjacent BFEs that have differences of several feet.
How is FEMA accounting for sea level rise and climate change on the FIRMs? Does sea level rise/climate change affect the FIRMs?
FEMA maps coastal flood hazards based on existing shoreline characteristics, and wave and storm climatology at the time of the flood study. In accordance with the current Code of Federal Regulations, FEMA does not map flood hazards based on anticipated future sea levels or climate change. Over the lifespan of a study, changes in flood hazards from sea level rise and climate change are typically not large enough to affect the validity of the study results.
In accordance with the Biggert-Water Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012, FEMA is to establish a Technical Mapping Advisory Council that will provide recommendations to FEMA on flood hazard mapping guidelines—including recommendations for future mapping conditions, the impacts of sea level rise and future development. FEMA will be required to incorporate future risk assessment in accordance with the recommendations of the Council.
Why do flood maps change?
Flood hazards change over time. How water flows and drains can change by new land use and community development or by natural forces such as changing weather, terrain changes, or wildfires. To better reflect the current flood risk conditions, FEMA uses the latest technology to update and issue new flood maps nationwide to aid communities, property owners, and other stakeholders in taking steps to address flood risks.
Why does a coastal study take so long?
There are three primary reasons for the length of a study from project inception through final map adoption:
- Coordination with multiple stakeholder groups;
- Complex modeling; and
- The appeal process and compliance period.
How do flood maps show flood risk?
Flood maps show the different flood zones. Moderate- to low-risk areas are labeled Zone X (or Zones B and C on older maps). High-risk areas begin with the letters A or V. Areas where the risk is not known are shown with the letter D. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) displayed on flood maps show the lowest height that floodwaters can be expected to reach during a major flood and that participating NFIP communities must consider in making floodplain management decisions.
How is the risk shown on the flood maps reflected in insurance premiums?
If your building is in a high-risk area, you are likely to pay a higher flood insurance premium than someone in a moderate- to low-risk area. The exact amount you pay is based on several things, including the flood zone and elevation of the building. In a high-risk area, your insurance premium may also depend on when your building was built compared to the date of the community’s first flood map. Some buildings built before the community’s first flood map, called pre-flood map, are eligible for discounted rates.
Why am I required to purchase flood insurance?
Congress changed the law in 1973 to mandate flood insurance coverage for many properties. Since this time, Federally regulated lending institutions cannot make, increase, extend, or renew any loan secured by improved real property located in a Special Flood Hazard Area in a participating community, unless the secured building and any personal property securing the loan were covered for the life of the loan by a flood insurance policy. Changing the law was necessary because, after major flooding disasters, it became evident that relatively few individuals in eligible communities who sustained flood damage had purchased flood insurance
When am I required to purchase flood insurance?
In accordance with the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994, flood insurance is required for all structures in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) that carry a home mortgage loan backed by a federally regulated lender or servicer. For virtually every mortgage transaction involving a structure in the United States, the lender reviews the current National Flood Insurance Program maps to determine the property’s location relative to the published SFHA. This review occurs anytime a Federally backed loan is can made, increased, extended, or renewed.
Who determined that I was required to purchase flood insurance?
The mortgage lender, or a determination company hired by the mortgage lender, typically determines whether a structure is in a SFHA, and if flood insurance is required. If they determine that a home or business is located in a high-risk area, they then inform the owner or potential buyer that flood insurance is required to receive the loan.
Does my homeowners insurance policy cover flooding?
No. Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy.
Does my renters insurance cover flooding?
No. Flood damage is not typically covered by renters insurance. However, renters can obtain an NFIP flood policy. You don't have to own a home to obtain flood insurance.
Can I shop around for flood insurance?
The National Flood Insurance Program is a Federal program offering flood insurance that can be purchased from most leading insurance companies. Rates are set and do not differ from company to company or agent to agent.
Why should I purchase flood insurance?
Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. From 2007 to 2011, the average residential flood claim amounted to almost $30,000. Flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from devastating financial loss. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers and the property's flood risk.
If my home is flooded, won’t federal disaster assistance pay for my damages?
Not necessarily. Federal disaster assistance is only made available when there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration, and most flood events do not result in a declaration. Federal disaster aid typically comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans that must be repaid, along with whatever loan payment you may already have had for your property. Disaster assistance from FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration was not designed to restore your home to its pre-disaster condition or to replace most of your treasured household items.
Flood insurance doesn’t have to be paid back, and it is designed to restore your property to its pre-disaster condition. There’s no better way to protect the life you’ve built than with NFIP flood insurance.
Am I eligible for flood insurance?
To purchase flood insurance from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you must live in a community that participates in the program. Unincorporated Lee County DOES participate in the NFIP. Flood insurance is available - even if your home or structure has flooded before.
Can I get flood insurance if I'm renting a property?
Yes, if you live in a community that participates in the NFIP, you can purchase flood insurance to cover the contents of your home or business. Discuss your options with your insurance agent today.
I live in a low-risk flood zone. Do I really need flood insurance?
Yes. Even though flood insurance isn’t federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. In fact, policyholders outside of mapped high-risk flood areas file over 20 percent of all NFIP flood insurance claims and receive one-third of federal disaster assistance for flooding. When it’s available, federal disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low price. Ask your insurance agent for a quote. https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/17576
Why do I need flood insurance, even though my community has never been flooded?
FEMA understands it may seem unlikely that it will flood in your community, especially as you and possibly even your neighbors, parents, or others may not ever remember flooding there. But changes in your community can send water flowing in new directions, creating flood risks that never existed before.
A recent hurricane hit near my house and it didn’t flood; are you sure these maps indicate the current flood risk in my area?
Be aware that every flood and every storm is different. For instance, there were some communities in Louisiana that flooded during Hurricane Isaac (2012) but did not flood during Hurricane Katrina (2005). Although Isaac was much weaker than Katrina, Isaac moved very slowly and caused flooding in areas that the faster-moving, stronger Katrina had not.
FEMA is using the latest science and technology available to make your flood maps more accurate with the ultimate goal of protecting you, your home or business, and your community from flood-related losses. FEMA is also working with your local officials to use the information in your new flood map to better plan community development and protect your community from the devastation floods can cause.
Do I have to get a flood insurance policy through the NFIP?
No, you may acquire flood insurance through a private flood insurance policy. What matters is being protected from floods, regardless of how you obtain it. Contact your local insurance agent for more guidance.
Do I need to get an Elevation Certificate?
Yes, if you are in the Special Flood Hazard Area (Flood zones beginning with A or V). Having an Elevation Certificate (EC) that proves the current elevation of your structure is crucial to determining whether the new maps will affect you. The EC will prove what the existing elevation of the first livable floor is in comparison to the required elevation shown on the preliminary flood maps (known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps). For more information regarding Elevation Certificates, follow this link.
What is the difference between a Zone VE and a Zone AE flood hazard designation?
Zone AE is the area subject to inundation by the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood event. Zone VE is also area subject to inundation from the base flood, but with additional hazards due to storm-induced velocity wave action. Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) derived from detailed hydraulic analyses are shown. Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements and floodplain management standards apply in both zones. Read more about the different flood hazard designations.
What is the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA)?
Limit of Moderate Wave Action. The LiMWA indicates where waves can reach heights of over 1.5 feet. Follow this link for more details.
What is a Coastal A Zone?
The new FEMA map updates include a new Coastal AE zone and a line called the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA). The LiMWA indicates where waves can reach heights of over 1.5 feet. The Coastal A zone is a transitional zone between areas where FEMA uses coastal flood hazard analysis for V Zones and riverine analysis for interior A Zones. There will likely be new regulatory construction standards for parcels in the Coastal A Zone. There is no increase in flood insurance premiums for anyone placed into a Coastal A Zone. For details, go to http://www.fema.gov/risk-mapping-assessment-planning.
Because the 1.5-foot breaking wave in the LiMWA zone can potentially cause foundation failure, communities are encouraged to adopt building construction standards for Coastal A zones similar to Zone VE in those areas.
Residents and business owners living or working in the LiMWA zone should be aware of the potential wave action along with floating debris, erosion and scour that could cause significant damage on their property. They are encouraged to build safer and higher to minimize the risk to life and property.
Does the LiMWA impact flood insurance premiums?
No. The LiMWA currently has no bearing on flood insurance premium rates. Zone AE areas that are both seaward and landward of the LiMWA will be rated the same for flood insurance purposes.
Is there a low-cost flood policy for homes in moderate- to low-risk areas?
Yes. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low price as long as the property meets eligibility requirements based on the building’s entire flood loss history.
I'm not in a high-risk area, but I'd like flood coverage. Is this possible?
Yes! You are eligible to purchase a flood policy with the same coverage you would receive if you lived in a high-risk area. That is, of course, as long as your community participates in the NFIP. A Preferred Risk Policy provides both building and contents coverage for properties in moderate- to low-risk areas for one low price.
My area has never flooded, so I've got history on my side or do I?
Conditions change. Nearby construction can alter drainage patterns, and rainfall can exceed yearly averages. In addition, nearby community storm water drains can clog and quickly back up water during heavy rains, causing localized flooding. What's happened in the past is no guarantee of what will happen in the future.
After my home was damaged in a flood, I received federal disaster assistance. Do I need to purchase flood insurance now?
Yes. If you live in a high-risk Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and have received disaster assistance in the form of a federal grant or loan, you must purchase and maintain flood insurance for as long as you live there. If you are a homeowner and you sell the building, you are required to inform the new owner of the necessity to purchase and maintain flood insurance. Failure to maintain flood insurance—for both renters and homeowners—could result in the denial of future federal disaster assistance.
There was a flood in my neighborhood 20 years ago and I live in a 100-year floodplain. So nothing's going to happen in my lifetime, right?
This is a common misunderstanding. You may hear the phrase “100-year” flood and think a flood happens only once in one hundred years. That old adage is not true. The Special Flood Hazard Area (aka flood zone or floodplain) is an area that has a 1 percent chance, or a 1 in 100 chance, of a flood happening in any given year. That means a flood could happen this year and again the next year. It has nothing to do with calendar years. The phrase “1 percent annual chance flood” is more accurate.
Who do I contact if I want to purchase a flood insurance policy?
The NFIP has an arrangement with private insurance companies to sell and service flood insurance policies. A list of private insurance companies that sell and service NFIP flood insurance policies is available online.
Flood insurance can be purchased through an insurance agent or an insurer participating in the NFIP. If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661 for assistance.
Is there a special risk-rating procedure for coastal high hazard areas (V-zones)?
Yes. When calculating the risk of a V-zone property, FEMA uses a formula that takes into account the ability of the building to withstand the impact of wave action.
Does flood insurance cover flood damage caused by hurricanes, rivers or tidal waters?
Yes, providing that, if confined to your property, the flood water covers at least two acres. A general condition of flood also exists if two properties are affected, one of which is yours.
Is flood damage from wind-driven rain covered?
No. When rain enters through a wind-damaged window or door, or comes through a hole in a wall or roof, the NFIP considers the resulting puddles and damage to be windstorm-related, not flood-related.
Flood insurance covers overflow of inland or tidal waters and unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source. However, the flood must be a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is yours). Although flood insurance specifically excludes wind and hail damage, most homeowners insurance provides this coverage.
Can flooding occur in X zones (low to moderate risk areas)?
Yes! Floods do not read flood maps. In fact, about 20 to 25 percent of all flood insurance claims nationally come from areas designated as low- to moderate-risk areas (X zones). FEMA’s flood maps or FIRMs (Flood Insurance Rate Maps) are developed to show the 1 percent annual chance flood (otherwise known as the “Base Flood”) for the purposes of regulating the floodplain, and flood insurance requirements. But as we’ve learned, flooding can, and has happened anywhere it rains (examples are areas in the X zone in Houston after Harvey, or areas in North Carolina after Matthew or Florence). X zone properties are areas where FEMA has determined that the property would not be subject to inundation by the “Base Flood” – however, the property could be subject to other flood hazards. The property could be inundated by a flood with a magnitude greater than that of the “Base Flood” (or 1% annual chance in any given year flood). The property could be subject to localized flooding. Keep in mind, localized flooding is not shown on National Flood Insurance Rate maps (FEMA’s flood maps). Bottom line: Where it rains, it can flood! This is why a PRP policy is a good investment as one inch of flooding can cause up to $27,000 worth of damage. See below for more information about PRPs.
What is a PRP?
The National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) offers lower-cost protection for homes and apartments in areas of low to moderate flood risk. These areas outside of known floodplains are shown as B, C, or X, zones on a Flood Insurance Rate Map. Ask your insurance agent for a quote. https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/17576
For those properties with increases in flood risk, FEMA’s NFIP provides residents with cost-saving insurance rating options, such as grandfathering, to help reduce the financial impacts. For those properties no longer identified to be in high-risk areas, property owners will be encouraged to convert their existing flood policies to a lower-cost “Preferred Risk Policy” (or a PRP) with premiums starting at less than $200 a year.
Where can I view my new preliminary map?
For Unincorporated Lee County areas (areas not within a city limit) use our interactive property look up app by clicking here. The link to the pdf map will be indicated by the word Panel. (For instance, "Panel 0XXXF" or "Panel 0XXXG")
What is a Flood Insurance Study?
To accompany FIRMs, Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports are provided to communities to give background information on the FIRMs and the analyses done to produce the maps. The FIS report includes a description of the engineering methods used, flooding history, graphic profiles, flood elevation summaries, and other information.
A new preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) has been released to accompany the preliminary FIRM panels. More about Flood Insurance Studies: https://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance-study
What if I'm newly mapped into a different flood risk zone?
Follow this link for more information - Map Changes and Flood Insurance: What property owners need to know.
What is Freeboard?
Freeboard is a factor of safety (usually expressed in feet) above a required Base Flood Elevation for floodplain management purposes. Newly built structures located in the Special Flood Hazard Area are required to build one additional foot above the FEMA BFE. Freeboard results in significantly lower flood insurance rates due to lower flood risk. Contact your local Building Department for more information.
FEMAs Coastal Maps Frequently Asked Questions
Click here for a detailed list of FAQs