Who and What is FEMA?
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) is a federal agency which has a mission to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that at a nation we work together to build, sustain, and better our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to , recover from, and mitigate all hazards. FEMA employees are spread throughout the United States, located at FEMA Headquarters, 10 regional offices, the National Emergency Training Center, Center for Domestic Preparedness/Noble Training Center, and numerous other locations to support the larger emergency management team.
What is the NFIP?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was established in 1968 when the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 was passed. The NFIP is a Federal program which enables property owners in participating communities to purchase flood insurance as protection against flood losses, while requiring State and local governments to enforce floodplain management regulations that reduce future flood damages. Over 20,000 communities participate in the NFIP.
Floodplain management is fundamental to reducing flood losses. Floodplain management defines the actions that States and communities can take to reduce flood damage to both new and existing buildings. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) plays a key role in encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. By law, FEMA can only provide flood insurance to those States or communities that adopt and vigorously enforce floodplain management regulations that meet the minimum NFIP requirements.
What is a Flood Zone?
We all live in a Flood Zone, anywhere it can rain it can potentially flood. However, there are different levels of flooding risks that what we need to look at when speaking about Flood Zones. Are you in a high risk area for flooding? The high risk flood zone is identified by Flood Insurance Rate Maps and is called the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The SFHA is defined as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The 1-percent annual chance flood is also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood. SFHAs are labeled as Zone A, Zone AO, Zone AH, Zones A1-A30, Zone AE, Zone A99, Zone AR, Zone AR/AE, Zone AR/AO, Zone AR/A1-A30, Zone AR/A, Zone V, Zone VE, and Zones V1-V30. Moderate flood hazard areas, labeled Zone B or Zone X (shaded) are also shown on the FIRM, and are the areas between the limits of the base flood and the 0.2-percent-annual-chance (or 500-year) flood. The areas of minimal flood hazard, which are the areas outside the SFHA and higher than the elevation of the 0.2-percent-annual-chance flood, are labeled Zone C or Zone X (unshaded).
What does it mean when my lender says I am in a 100 Year Flood Zone?
Most of us are located outside of the SFHA (or more often referred to as the 100 year flood zone). If however your lender has deemed you to be within or near the 100 year zone, then you will be forced to pay flood insurance. It is important to understand that the FEMA flood maps are approximate, therefore you will not truly know if your structure is within the 100 year flood zone unless the elevation of the structure is checked. We find that 85% of the time we are able to help a homeowner and remove the lender forced requirement for flood insurance completely. At Alpine Land Surveying, we will look up the property in question and advise you as to how you should proceed. Many times, just by looking at the property we can tell you if your neighbors or any nearby properties have already been successful in amending the FEMA maps and lifting the requirement for flood insurance on their properties.
What is an Elevation Certificate and when is it needed?
An Elevation Certificate is a document used by the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) to certify the elevation of a structure which is located in or near a 100 year flood zone. When writing a flood insurance policy, sometimes (but not always) an Elevation Certificate is required. It would be used to rate the level of risk (or damage) that a building would experience in a 100 year rain event. This document is several pages long and would report things such as the different floor elevations, the type of building and the elevation of all mechanicals which service the building. Almost everyone will tell you to get an Elevation Certificate 1st, if you are being forced to pay flood insurance….this is actually very bad advice. At Alpine Land Surveying, we will shoot the structure and then decide if an Elevation Certificate is needed. Many times it would NOT be needed, and therefore a waste of your money.
What is a LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment)?
A Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) is process in which we here at Alpine Land Surveying will file the proper documents electronically with FEMA to officially amendment the effective National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) map. If your structure qualifies and we move forward with the LOMA process, the LOMA will then remove a property’s location in relation to the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). LOMA’s are usually issued because a property has been inadvertently mapped as being in the floodplain, but is actually on natural high ground above the 100 year flood elevation.
Do I have other options if my property is too low to qualify for a LOMA?
Yes! Plan A would be remove the structure if it qualifies. If we are unable to remove the structure because it is found to be too low, then we switch to Plan B. We then look at other options or ways to reduce your flood premiums. Each property is unique, however many times we find that making just a few changes to the structure would result in an extreme savings to the property owner. Our Flood Zone Expert, Karol has many success stories. In one recent example she was able to get the premiums reduced from $3200/year down to $356/year with just a few small changes to the structure.