This webpage is intended for flood map changes for UNINCORPORATED Lee County. If you live in a municipality (within a city limit), please contact your municipality.

These map changes are not related to Hurricane Irma (or Hurricane Dorian). They are a result of the RISK Map Study, initiated by FEMA in 2013.

Brief synopsis of map changes

• Over time, flood risks and predicted levels of flooding change due to weather events, environmental changes, erosion, land use and other factors. Maps are updated periodically to reflect these changes.
• Current effective Coastal elevations (modeling) are from the late 70’s/early 80’s.
• Risk MAP is a FEMA flood-map update, Risk Mapping, Assessment & Planning (Risk MAP) will analyze coastal wave action to create new elevation data for Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) (flood maps).
• This is updated advanced coastal analysis by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) contractors/consultants.
• In 2013, FEMA initiated a coastal flood risk study for the Southwest Florida Study Area that affects Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hendry, Lee, and Sarasota Counties.
• November 2014, FEMA notified Lee County that it is analyzing coastal wave action in the Gulf of Mexico as part of its Risk MAP program.
• Lee County hired a consultant for monitoring.
• The FEMA analysis was used to create new elevation data for Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The maps are based on existing conditions (not future conditions).
• Preliminary maps were released by FEMA in the July of 2019.


FEMA has advised Unincorporated Lee County that the Coastal Risk MAP project  has been completed.    

If you live or own property in the purple areas of this map (click on map to enlarge), your plans to build/renovate or your National Flood Insurance (NFIP) policy premiums may be affected by these flood map changes (scroll below for more information).

Link to Map of Proposed Changes

Link to Find My Current and Preliminary Flood Zone

Base Flood definition

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.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE) definition

In summary, the BFE is the predicted  level of flooding.

The BFE is how high floodwaters are likely to rise to during a 1% annual chance flood or a Base Flood. Since this is the elevation water is expected to rise to, the first livable floor should be at or even exceed the BFE in order to avoid damage from flooding. Base Flood Elevations are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) or flood maps. This required elevation information is vital for new construction and some remodeling/renovation projects. For flood insurance purposes, the relationship between the BFE and the structure's actual elevation (among other things), determines flood insurance premiums. To read more about BFEs, follow this link.


Risk Mapping, Assessment & Planning (Risk MAP) analyzes coastal wave action to create new elevation data for Flood Insurance Rate Maps. This may affect rates on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies and construction regulations for some parcels and structures in Unincorporated Lee County.

Map of Changes


In the 1990s, FEMA initiated a nationwide effort to modernize and update flood maps throughout the United States.  

In 2013, FEMA launched the coastal risk map study in Southwest Florida for Lee, Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hendry and Sarasota counties.

Risk MAP builds on the previous Map Modernization program with a closer consideration of coastal wave action. The last comprehensive remapping in Lee County, which was effective in 2008, was based primarily on analysis of interior rivers, creeks and canals. Both FEMA and local jurisdictions (unincorporated Lee County and the other municipalities) worked proactively on flood map updates in 2008, 2012 and 2018.

For the new coastal Risk MAP project, FEMA consultants used storm surge and wave analysis models to update flood zones and base flood elevations for coastal areas and the banks of the Caloosahatchee River.

This analysis will likely change base flood elevations and flood zones on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for some parcels and structures in Unincorporated Lee County. These FIRMs determine critical construction requirements as well as flood insurance rates for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) polices.

Most of the western portion of the County (barrier islands) and areas along the Caloosahatchee and other waterways connected to the Gulf may be affected. Some inland areas may be affected as well.


Map of Affected Panels

Affected Panels

Download Preliminary Map Panels

To download Flood Insurance Rate Map Panels for Unincorporated Lee County:

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")  

or

go to FEMA's Map Service Center's Home page for more information, or go directly to their Map Product Search page.

(Note: As part of the map changes, some panels numbers have changed. Be aware that your preliminary panel number may not be the same as your current panel number).

Background

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) flood hazard mapping is the basis for local and federal development regulations and flood insurance requirements. Not only is flooding one of the most common and costly disasters, the risk for flooding changes over time due to erosion, land use, new building and development, weather events and other factors. FEMA studies and restudies flood hazards in communities across the U.S. to keep flood hazard maps up to date. The process usually takes several years to complete and includes the following steps:

• Data collection and flood modeling
• Development of draft working maps
• Release of Preliminary maps for community review
• An appeal and resolution period
• Final adoption of the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS)
 
Each time FEMA provides a community with updated flood hazard data, the community must adopt or amend floodplain management regulations to incorporate the new data and meet any additional requirements that result from any changes in the data.

The benefits of updated flood maps:

In the past, too many flood maps were outdated and did not reflect the current flood risk. Growth, development, and urbanization of previously undeveloped areas all contributed to the need for new flood maps.

Advances in technology have allowed for more definitive mapping. Updated technology and updated flood studies lead to better Base Flood Elevation information to be used in determining flood risk and for rating flood insurance policies.

Updated flood maps bring better risk identification, which leads to more accuracy in flood maps. In turn, property owners are able to make more informed decisions based on current and relevant information.

What to Expect

You may experience one of these scenarios:

• You'll be in going into the Special Flood Hazard Area when you weren't before.
• You’ll be coming out of the Special Flood Hazard Area (but the flood risk is not entirely removed).
• You'll be in a higher risk flood zone.
• Or the base flood elevation (predicted level of flooding) on your property will change. (higher or lower)                                     

• Or there may be no change to your flood zone or Base Flood Elevation.

These changes could impact construction regulations and how much you pay for the flood insurance (which your mortgage lender requires).

• Expect changes to loan requirements and flood insurance costs in areas where updates occur.
• Some residents and business owners will find that their flood risk has increased, while others it may actually have been reduced.
• The NFIP has insurance cost-saving rating options to help reduce financial impacts.
• Revised flood maps will guide Unincorporated Lee County's planning decisions and development requirements resulting in a more resilient county.
• The final effective date of the new FIRMs (Flood Insurance Rate Maps) is not yet known, however the target date is expected to be late 2020 or early 2021.
• The County will keep the public and stakeholders informed throughout the process.

Does your preliminary flood map show a higher elevation requirement than the elevations on the existing effective flood map? If yes, then it's important to obtain an Elevation Certificate to determine the existing elevation of your structure. The difference between your first-floor elevation and the newly required BFE will determine if your NFIP premiums or building/remodeling requirements will change.

Project Timeline
  • Preliminary maps released July of 2019
  • FEMA open house September 11, 2019 -where the public can view the preliminary maps and see if they are affected (no formal presentation will be given).
  • Target date to submit appeals to FEMA is December 2019.
  • Target date for maps to be effective is late 2020, early 2021.
Building or Modifying Concerns

Having a more up-to-date picture of the local flood risk will allow citizens, with the help of community staff and officials, to make more informed decisions about where to build and to what height above the ground new building should be constructed.

• If you plan to build or modify structures on parcels where FEMA flood zones are changing, it’s important to know that FEMA and the Florida Building Code have construction standards in the V and A flood zones. As a result of the new maps, Base Flood Elevation requirements may increase and flood zone designations may change.

• 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. Appellants will be responsible for correcting them. (See Criteria for Appeals of Flood Insurance Rate Maps once in this webpage, scroll down.)

• How will this affect existing and new development? These map changes may affect how you renovate or remodel in the future due to the new elevation requirements or new flood zone designations that may have affected your property. Our staff is here to help with questions that you may have regarding buildings or property located in Unincorporated Lee County. Email FIRMinfo@leegov.com for assistance.

• Being located in a high-risk area does not preclude development or use of a property but it does impact the conditions of development.  We expect the height of the estimated water surge, which helps determine the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) used in development and building codes, to increase in many areas. As a result, many BFE’s will increase. Areas of increased risk will be required to comply with new building requirements. Non-compliance to the new flood maps could result in changes in insurance costs.

• If your structure's (home or business) elevation is below the BFE, Unincorporated Lee County has flood damage prevention regulations that may affect how you remodel, renovate, or add on to your building. Follow this link for more information regarding Substantial Improvements and the 50% rule.

• Base Flood: the category of flood having 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.

• Base Flood Elevation (BFE): The predicted level of flooding. 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).

Flood Insurance Concerns

These map changes will be of interest to you if you already have or are planning to get a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program NFIP.

About 131,000 people throughout all Lee County have flood policies  – but not all will be affected.
Contact your insurance agent to see how these flood maps will impact your existing flood insurance policy.

If you already have a flood insurance policy, check to see if you currently have contents coverage (which is typically separate/additional coverage).

Visit www.FloodSmart.gov for more basic information on flood insurance.

This FEMA fact sheet answers most basic questions regarding flood map changed: “Map Changes and Flood Insurance: What Property Owners Need to Know” 

In general, the map updates will result in one of the following for property owners in the affected area:

• You may be going into the Special Flood Hazard Area when you weren't before. The new flood map documents an increase in flood risk for your area (High risk flood zones: A, AE, AH, AO and VE).
• You may be coming out of the Special Flood Hazard Area. Moderate to low risk flood zones are named: X zone. Some may see removal from the SFHA as the elimination  of any flood risk. But this is not the case. The new flood maps document a reduction in flood risk with the flood zone designation change, but the risk is not eliminated.
• The base flood elevation on your property may change (higher or lower). Flood Insurance policy premiums may be impacted.

 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. Contact your flood insurance agent for more information.

Realty and Lending Professionals

The links below can provide a wealth of useful information for insurance, lending, and real estate industry agents and companies regarding the region-wide coastal analysis and mapping effort undertaken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in partnership with Federal, State, and regional entities; county and community officials; and private-sector engineering companies.

• What You and Your Clients Should Know
How You and Your Clients Should Use the New Maps and Reports
Where To View or Download Maps and Reports
• Flood Insurance Requirements and Options
• What You and Your Clients Should Know About the Preferred Risk Policy Extension
• Stay Up To Date Through the FEMA Blog and Social Media
• For Other Available Resources
• For Even More Information

What You and Your Clients Should Know About the Coastal Engineering Analyses and Maps

• As the coastal engineering analyses are completed, new or updated versions of digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are produced and presented to community officials and the public at formal meetings and open houses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. (For more information on the meetings and open houses, see the FEMA Coastal Flood Risk Study Meetings fact sheet.)

• Paper copies of the Preliminary versions of the new or updated FIRMs and the associated Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports should be available for viewing at the "Community Map Repository"  for each community.

• Information on how to locate the Community Map Repository" and where to find the digital versions of the new or updated FIRMs and FIS reports and earlier versions of the maps and reports is provided in the "Where To View or Download Maps and Reports" section above.

• The new or updated FIRMs and FIS reports provide more up-to-date and accurate flood hazard information in the coastal areas of each county.

• The new or updated FIRMs are a vital resource for insurance, lending, and real estate industry professionals who are active in communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

• The coastal engineering analyses and resulting new or updated FIRM panels and FIS report materials are the result of a collaborative effort between and among:

   - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
   - Several State and regional partners
   - County and local government officials

   - Technical experts from the public and private sectors

• The new or updated FIRMs and FIS reports provide more detailed, reliable, and current flood hazard data in digital format.

• With a more up-to-date picture of their community's flood hazards and associated risk, community officials and citizens may make more informed decisions on where to build and to what height above the ground new buildings should be constructed to minimize losses.

• For some mapped areas, the risk may be higher than some homeowners or business owners thought; for other mapped areas, the risk may be lower.

• 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 begin 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, once in the webpage, scroll down.) 

Get additional information for insurance, lending and real estate industry professionals.

Flood Insurance Agents

When flood maps change to reflect current flood risks, flood insurance agents are crucial community messengers. Equipped with the right technical knowledge and marketing resources, you can help clients understand their current flood risk, maintain or increase their flood insurance coverage, and take advantage of possible cost savings options.

If you live in a community undergoing a FEMA flood map change, download materials below – from social media posts to co-branded brochures – to help raise awareness among your current and potential customers. Read below or find out more through this link.

Brochure: Lower-Cost Rating Option for Buildings Newly Mapped into High Risk Areas

The links below can provide a wealth of useful information for insurance, lending, and real estate industry agents and companies regarding the region-wide coastal analysis and mapping effort undertaken by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in partnership with Federal, State, and regional entities; county and community officials; and private-sector engineering companies.

• What You and Your Clients Should Know
• How You and Your Clients Should Use the New Maps and Reports
• Where To View or Download Maps and Reports
• Flood Insurance Requirements and Options
Stay Up To Date Through the FEMA Blog and Social Media
• For Other Available Resources
• For Even More Information

What You and Your Clients Should Know About the Coastal Engineering Analyses and Maps

• As the coastal engineering analyses are completed, new or updated versions of digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are produced and presented to community officials and the public at formal meetings and open houses in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. (For more information on the meetings and open houses, see the FEMA Coastal Flood Risk Study Meetings fact sheet.)

• Paper copies of the Preliminary versions of the new or updated FIRMs and the associated Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports should be available for viewing at the "Community Map Repository"  for each community.

• Information on how to locate the Community Map Repository and where to find the digital versions of the new or updated FIRMs and FIS reports and earlier versions of the maps and reports is provided in the "Where To View or Download Maps and Reports" section above.

• The new or updated FIRMs and FIS reports provide more up-to-date and accurate flood hazard information in the coastal areas of each county.

• The new or updated FIRMs are a vital resource for insurance, lending, and real estate industry professionals who are active in communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

• The coastal engineering analyses and resulting new or updated FIRM panels and FIS report materials are the result of a collaborative effort between and among:

   - Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
   - Several State and regional partners
   - County and local government officials
   - Technical experts from the public and private sectors

• The new or updated FIRMs and FIS reports provide more detailed, reliable, and current flood hazard data in digital format.

• With a more up-to-date picture of their community's flood hazards and associated risk, community officials and citizens may make more informed decisions on where to build and to what height above the ground new buildings should be constructed to minimize losses.

• For some mapped areas, the risk may be higher than some homeowners or business owners thought; for other mapped areas, the risk may be lower.

• Although the information presented on the new or updated FIRMs and in the new or updated FIS reports is more accurate, some community officials and property owners may not agree with all of the flood hazard information presented. (See Criteria for Appeals of Flood Insurance Rate Maps, once in the webpage, scroll down.) 

Risk MAP Details

A FEMA flood-map update, Risk Mapping, Assessment & Planning (Risk MAP) will analyze coastal wave action to create new elevation data for Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)

Coastal communities are special places and home to vital resources. What makes them so distinctive is also what makes them at high risk for floods. Floods are the Nation’s costliest natural disasters, and coastal areas are dynamic environments that are constantly reshaped by the forces of nature. Coastal communities face a range of flooding hazards that include storm surge, waves, and erosion—all of which can cause extensive damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure.

Flood maps show the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)— the area that would be affected by a 1-percent-annual-chance flood (or base flood). Properties within the SFHA are at a high risk of flooding, with at least a 26 percent chance of flooding over the course of a 30-year mortgage.
 
Flood maps also include information about flood risk zones and  Base Flood Elevations (BFE). The BFE is how high floodwater is likely to rise to during a 1-percent-annual-chance flood event - the predicted level of flooding. The BFE does not represent the depth of flooding above ground in a given area; it is instead measured against a datum, typically the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD88). NAVD88 is considered the official 0-foot elevation for North America. BFEs are measured from this reference point, which is approximately equal to sea level, and vary widely across geographies. In low-lying coastal areas, such as along the ocean shorelines, BFEs may be in the range of 10 to 30 feet. In higher-elevation inland areas, like along the Great Lakes, BFEs can be higher than 500 feet.

Flood hazard information is shown on a variety of FEMA regulatory products, including preliminary and effective FIRMs. You can download FIRM panels from the FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) website as an image file. When printed, FIRM panels are two feet by three feet in size, so there is also an option to download smaller portions of the FIRM, called a FIRMette.

Flood hazard information shown on FIRMs is also shown on the National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) Viewer, which is a web viewer that shows current, effective flood hazard information for those parts of the country where FEMA has produced digital maps. Unlike FIRMs, the NFHL displays multiple FIRM panels at once and shows where revisions to the FIRM (i.e. Letters of Map Amendment, or LOMAs, and Letters of Map Revision) have been made.

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. You can view or download your community’s FIS report on the MSC website. Coastal flooding sources include the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and large lakes (such as the Great Lakes), bays, and tidal rivers that are big enough to have large waves or to be affected by storm surge. Coastal floods can be dangerous when high waters are combined with the destructive forces of waves. In low-lying coastal areas, storm surge and flooding can reach far inland, tens of miles from the shoreline, flowing up rivers and across flat land. 

• FEMA is studying Lee and Hendry counties simultaneously with other Florida Gulf Coast counties, including Charlotte and Sarasota.

• Most of the western portion of the County and areas along the Caloosahatchee may be affected.

• Risk MAP is occurring throughout the United States. 

• Risk Mapping, Assessment & Planning (Risk MAP) is a FEMA-initiated coastal flood hazard analysis that will:
- Revise base flood elevation data and flood zone boundaries on Lee County’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).  Most parcels will likely see a benefit or no change, others will face higher regulatory construction standards and more expensive NFIP insurance premiums.

- Create new Coastal A Zones, 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.

- 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 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiated this study and hired contractors do to the work for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

• Unincorporated Lee County, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel will eventually adopt these maps as a condition of membership in the NFIP.

• Unincorporated Lee County hired Woods Hole Group (WHG) early in this process to monitor data collection and modeling and to assist in potential appeals of the preliminary maps.

- WHG is a Massachusetts company founded in 1986 by a senior scientist of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

- WHG has a rich database of information about Florida’s Gulf and Atlantic coastlines and historic storms.

- WHG coastal sciences, engineering and planning staff are experts in using and understanding the flood mapping models, especially the AdCirc (advanced wave circulation) model.

- WHG works primarily for local governments and private companies on FEMA issues.  They are familiar with FEMA processes and are respected by FEMA contractors. They do not rely on FEMA for their income.

• Fort Myers and Sanibel recently also hired contractors to look over FEMA’s proposal.

Revised Maps Better Reflect Risks

Lee County is part of a multi-year process led by FEMA to update coastal flood maps. The last comprehensive remapping in Lee County, which was effective in 2008, was based primarily on analysis of interior rivers, creeks and canals. The 2008 countywide flood map updates did not include an updated analysis of the coastal flood risk and does not reflect new development or changes in shoreline.

Not only is flooding one of the most common and costly disasters, the risk for flooding changes over time due to erosion, land use, new building and development, weather events and other factors. FEMA studies and restudies flood hazards in communities across the U.S. to keep flood hazard maps up to date.

This map revision more accurately reflects today's flood risks, which will:

• Provide property owners along the coast of Lee County with up-to-date, reliable, Internet-accessible information about their risk of storm surge-driven coastal flooding.

• Help residents and business owners make more informed decisions about protecting their property and financial stability.

• Allow community planners, local officials, engineers, builders, and others to make important determinations about where and how new structures and developments should be built.

Having a more up-to-date picture of the local flood risk will allow citizens, with the help of community floodplain administrators, or FPAs, to make more informed decisions about where to build and to what height above the ground new building should be constructed.

More Information about FIRMs

A Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is an official map on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) identifies areas of high, moderate and low flood risk. Since the late 2000s, FEMA has been updating Flood Insurance Studies and Flood Insurance Rate Maps for the entire populated coastline of the country to provide improved flood risk information to coastal communities along the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes.

Important Note: Flooding occurs not only in high-risk areas, known as Special Flood Hazard Areas, but also in areas with a low to moderate risk on a FIRM. Anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. People outside of high-risk areas (also known as X zones) file over 20 percent of National Flood Insurance Program claims and receive one third of FEMA's disaster assistance for flooding.

What are the benefits of new Coastal Flood Maps?

When completed (when the preliminary flood maps are finalized and adopted), Unincorporated Lee County and its residents and business owners in coastal and tidally influenced areas will have up-to-date, reliable, internet-accessible data about the coastal flood risks they face. Lee County will have improved coastal flood information to help guide financial protection, planning, investment, building, development and renovation decisions. Residents and business owners will know their current flood risk and be able to make better decisions about insuring and protecting their property against financial risk. Real estate professionals will be able to inform clients of the risk factors that may affect the property they are buying or selling, and any flood insurance requirements. Insurance professionals will know their clients’ current flood risk and can provide more informed recommendations regarding flood insurance coverage options. Local officials, planners, builders and developers will use the updated flood risk information to determine where and how to build more safely.

What are the benefits of the new flood hazard map?

• Users will benefit from the new FIRM, FIS report, and associated data and products in a number of ways.

• Community planners and local officials will have a better understanding of the flood hazards and risks that affect your community and can consequently improve local planning activities.

• Builders and developers will have access to more detailed information for making decisions on where to build and how construction can affect local flood hazards and associated risks.

• Insurance agents, insurance companies, real estate agents and lending institutions will have easy online access to updates and upcoming changes, allowing them to serve their customers and community more effectively.

• Homeowners, business owners, and renters will be able to make better financial decisions about protecting their properties.

More benefits of updated flood maps:

•  Advances in technology have allowed for more definitive mapping. Updated technology and updated flood studies led to better Base Flood Elevation information to be used in determining flood risk and in rating flood insurance policies.

• Updated flood maps bring better risk identification, which leads to more accuracy in flood maps. In turn, property owners are able to make more informed decisions based on current and relevant information.

Elevation Certificates

The National Flood Insurance Program's (NFIP) Elevation Certificate (EC) is an administrative tool used by the NFIP. It is used to provide certified elevation information (on structures and the surrounding ground area) necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances; to determine the proper insurance premium rate; and or support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) to remove a building from the Special Flood Hazard Area.

Lee County does not prepare elevation certificates. Elevation certificates are prepared by locally licensed surveyors.

An EC is the best way to determine if your structure meets the elevation requirements as noted on the Flood Insurance Rate Map.

Follow this link for more information.

Contacts

Residents of UNINCORPORATED Lee County, please contact FIRMinfo@leegov.com or 533-8585 for flood mapping assistance.

Incorporated areas (areas within city limits) of Lee County are also members of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you live in one of the Lee County municipalities, please contact your city, town or village for flood map information:

City of Bonita Springs: 239-949-6262

City of Cape Coral: 239-574-0553

Village of Estero: 239-319-2811

City of Fort Myers: 239-321-7000

Town of Fort Myers Beach: 239-765-0202

City of Sanibel: 239-472-3700 

Not sure what municipality you live in? Click on "Find My Municipality" for more information.

AECOM/Compass is the contractor that will manage the final phase of FEMAs rollout of these new Flood Insurance Rate Maps that are based on updated coastal analysis.  Project manager: Michael Taylor, 404-313-3714, michael.taylor@aecom.com.

Additional Resources

FEMA's Communication Resources:

Definitions and Acronyms

Unincorporated Lee County:  Any land area that is not incorporated (not located within a city limit).

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.

Base Flood Elevations (BFE): The predicted level of flooding. The computed elevation to which floodwater is anticipated to rise during the base flood. Base Flood Elevations are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs): Are the official flood maps of a community on which FEMA has delineated both the special flood hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community. FIRM’s are the basis for floodplain management, mitigation and flood insurance activities in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The relationship between the BFE and the structure's elevation (among other things) determines the flood insurance premium.

FEMA: The Federal Emergency Management Agency's mission statement is "Helping people before, during and after disasters." FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror. Follow these links for more information FEMA homepage and www.floodsmart.gov

Elevation Certificate (EC): An Elevation Certificate is an important tool that documents your building’s elevation. Elevation Certificates can be prepared by local, licensed surveyors. Structures built in a Special Flood Hazard Area – including A, AE, AO and AH zones – or a Coastal High Hazard Area – including VE zones – must have a FEMA Elevation Certificate to prove that the structure meets the required Base Flood Elevation. A FEMA Elevation Certificate is required during construction before the first permanent horizontal member is placed. A final construction Elevation Certificate is also required. The Elevation Certificate is also required for new flood insurance policies from the National Flood Insurance Program. Your insurance agent may ask you for an Elevation Certificate (EC). This certificate verifies your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood in a high-risk flood area. It’s also beneficial to ask if your community participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), because this could mean local officials already have a copy of your EC on file. Policyholders with insured properties in communities that participate in CRS may be eligible for policy discounts. A property owner in a high-risk flood area always has the right to purchase an EC, which may reduce your flood insurance premium. Please contact a licensed insurance agent for further information.

Flood Insurance Rate Map: A flood insurance rate map (FIRM) is an official map of a community within the United States that displays the floodplains, more explicitly special hazard areas and flood risk premium zones, as delineated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Flood Insurance Study (FIS): Is a report prepared by FEMA that summarizes an analysis of the flood hazards in a community. The analysis used to prepare a FIS is also used to prepare a FIRM (flood insurance rate map), which is a map that shows the special flood hazard areas in a community. The FIS provides information to supplement the FIRM.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP): The National Flood Insurance Program, which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is a federal provider of flood insurance policies. Flood insurance is required for mortgages on structures in areas designated as a Special Flood Hazard Area and Coastal High Hazard Area. Lee County joined the NFIP in September 1984 when the County adopted its first Flood Insurance Rate Maps. Those maps establish flood zones and base flood elevations to determine the cost of flood insurance premiums.

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA):  (Also referred to as the “Flood Zone” or “floodplain”) The land area that could be covered by floodwaters in the event of the base flood. These areas are where the National Flood Insurance Program’s floodplain management regulations must be enforced and where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies for federally backed mortgages. Flood zones are labeled as AE, AH, AO and VE.

Risk MAP: Risk Mapping, Assessment & Planning is a FEMA-initiated coastal flood hazard analysis that will revise base flood elevation data and flood zone boundaries on Lee County’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).  Most parcels will likely see a benefit or no change, others will face higher regulatory construction standards and more expensive NFIP insurance premiums.

Acronyms: For a comprehensive list of FEMA/flood related acronyms, please go to: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/plan/prepare/faatlist07_09.pdf  OR https://www.floodsmart.gov/glossary

FEMA's Risk Map Webpage

Follow this link for detailed information regarding FEMA's Atlantic and Gulf Coast Flood Hazard Analyses and Mapping.

Flood Zone vs. Evacuation Zone

https://www.leegov.com/dcd/Documents/FloodMapping/FEMAFloodZones/FloodZoneVSEvac.pdf

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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:

  1. Coordination with multiple stakeholder groups;
  2. Complex modeling; and
  3. 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

MEDIA

FEMA Media Package

Helpful Additions from Lee County

What:
Risk Mapping, Assessment & Planning (Risk MAP).  This FEMA initiated coastal wave analysis will update most of the 2008 FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map

(FIRM) currently in effect, including non-coastal areas of Lee County.  The development of the FEMA Coastal Flood Risk MAP began in March of 2014.  Lee

County has been involved since that time.

  • The new maps won't affect all parcels.
  • Parcels that are affected could face higher regulatory construction standards and more expensive National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) insurance premiums.
  • Parcels that are affected may see changes in Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) and flood zone boundaries on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).
  • The new maps show new Coastal A Zones.

Who:
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiated this study and hired contractors to do the work for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Unincorporated Lee County, Bonita Springs, Cape Coral, Estero, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, and Sanibel will eventually adopt these maps as a condition of the

membership in the NFIP.

When:
Open House: FEMA held public open houses to educate the public on the flood map changes.  

  • June 28, 2019 – Preliminary maps subject to local appeal were released.
  • September 10, 2019 – Cape Coral open house meeting is at the Yacht Club 5-7 PM
  • September 11, 2019 – Lee County, Bonita Springs, Estero, Fort Myers open house at FSW 4-7 PM
  • December 2019 – Target date to submit appeals to FEMA
  • November/December 2020 – Earliest possible date for maps to be effective.

Preliminary maps are subject to public appeal.  Lee County has employed consultants who, along with Natural Resources, will determine if appeals are warranted, however; it's important to note that Lee County has been involved with this mapping process since 2014)  Property owners may disagree with the preliminary maps but the public cannot appeal simply because they do not like the 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. (Click on this link for more details: Criteria for Appeals of Flood Insurance Rate Maps.)

Where:  
Risk MAP is occurring throughout the United States.  Lee and Hendry counties are being studied simultaneously with other Florida Gulf Coast counties, including Charlotte and Sarasota.

Why:
FEMA and the NFIP are continuing their effort to modernize and update flood maps nationwide. Risk MAP builds on the previous Map Modernization program with a closer consideration of coastal wave action.  The last comprehensive remapping in Lee County, which was effective in 2008, was based primarily on analysis of interior rivers, creeks and canals..

How:
FEMA consultants will use storm surge and wave analysis models to update flood zones and base flood elevations. 

Impact: 
This analysis will likely change base flood elevations and flood zones.  It will update Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which determine constructions requirements and flood insurance rates on National Flood Insurance Program policies.

Map Changes and Flood Insurance: What property owners need to know brochure.
https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/143390

Important items of interest:

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.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE):

In summary, the BFE is the predicted level of flooding.

The BFE is how high floodwaters are likely to rise to during a 1% annual chance flood or a Base Flood. Since this is the elevation water is expected to rise to, the first livable floor should be at or even exceed the BFE in order to avoid damage from flooding. Base Flood Elevations are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) or flood maps. This required elevation information is vital for new construction and some remodeling/renovation projects. For flood insurance purposes, the relationship between the BFE and the structure's actual elevation (among other things), determines flood insurance premiums. To read more about BFEs, follow this link.

Flood Insurance Rate Map: A flood insurance rate map (FIRM) is an official map of a community within the United States that displays the floodplains, more explicitly special hazard areas and flood risk premium zones, as delineated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA):  (Also referred to as the "Flood Zone" or "floodplain") The land area that could be covered by floodwaters in the event of the base flood. These areas are where the National Flood Insurance Program's floodplain management regulations must be enforced and where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies for federally backed mortgages. Flood zones are labeled as AE, AH, AO and VE.

Use the "Find my current and preliminary flood zone" app to determine if you are affected.

If you are affected you can attend the FEMA open house on September 11, 2019.

View this webpage for more information: https://www.leegov.com/dcd/flood/floodways/femamapchanges


Email Flood Mapping StaffEmail Flood Mapping staff for unincorporated Lee County inquiries

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