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                   The National
             Flood Insurance Program
                                                                    WHAT IS A FLOODPLAIN?
                                                A stream, creek,
                                             or river usually
 To find out your                             consists of three
 flood risk, visit                            elements: a stream                           channel, a flood-
                                             plain, and upland
                                                The channel
                                             is the area of the
      Everyone lives                         stream where water
                                             flows under normal
     in a flood zone.
    Any piece of land,                          The floodplain
                                                                                Source: STREAM CORRIDOR RESTORATION: PRINCIPLES, PROCESSES, AND PRACTICES;
                                                                                              THE FEDERAL INTERAGENCY STREAM RESTORATION WORKING GROUP

      no matter how                          is an area of land
                                                                     The three major components of a stream corridor.
       far it is from                        adjacent to the         rounding land.          Alabama. Also,                     The Fed-
        a waterway,                          stream and lower           All three            these zones de-                 eral Emergency
         is at risk                          than the adjacent       of these areas          pend on where                   Management
       for flooding.                          upland fringe. It is    vary in size            the stream is                   Agency (FEMA)
                                             frequently covered      from stream to          geographically.                 offers an online
                                             with water when a       stream, depend-            A mountain                   tool to deter-
                                             stream overflows         ing on many             stream has a                    mine the general
                                             its banks due to        factors, includ-        narrower chan-                  level of flood
                                             heavy rains, storm-     ing the size of         nel than a delta.               risk (low, mod-
                                             water runoff, snow      the waterbody.             The most im-                 erate, or high) of
This publication was supported by the        melt, or other oc-      For example,            portant thing to                a property.
National Sea Grant College Program of the
U.S. Department of Commerce’s National       currences.              the Missis-             remember is that                   Visit
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
under NOAA Grant NA06OAR4170078, the
                                                The upland           sippi River has         a structure built               http://www.
Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium     fringe area is a        a much larger           in a floodplain        ,
and Auburn University Marine Extension
and Research Center. Some information in     transitional zone       floodplain than          has a high likeli-              click on “What’s
this document has been provided by the
South Alabama Regional Planning Commis-      between the flood-       Fly Creek in            hood of being                   Your Flood
sion. The views expressed herein do not
necessarily reflect the views of any of the
                                             plain and the sur-      Baldwin County,         flooded.                         Risk?”
above organizations.

                                                              You should determine whether you need
                                                      flood insurance coverage regardless of the proximity
                                                         of your home or business to a flood-prone area.
                                                     Flood insurance policies are inexpensive and can save you
                                                      thousands of dollars in the event of Katrina-like storms.
                                                                        NATIONAL FLOOD
    National Flood Insurance                                          INSURANCE PROGRAM
         Program Zones                                             Created in 1968, the National Flood Insur-
Zones B, C, and X. (Low to Moderate risk)                       ance Program provides flood insurance to U.S.
   Areas with less than a 1% chance of flooding                  taxpayers and reduces future flood damage
each year; areas that have less than a 1% chance                through floodplain management. Floodplain
of sheet flow flooding with an average depth of                   management
less than 1 foot; areas that have less than a 1%                can include            Special Hazard
chance of stream flooding where the contributing                 floodplain ordi-        Flood Area: An area
drainage area is less than 1 square mile; or areas              nances, building        within the floodplain
protected from floods by levees.                                 and zoning re-          that is at a high risk
                                                                quirements, and         for flooding.
Zones A, AE and A1-A30. (High risk)                             other corrective
   Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and                 and preventative
a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-                  measures that reduce the risk of future flood
year mortgage.                                                  damage in a community.
                                                                   The program is funded through insurance
Zone AH. (High risk)                                            premiums. After a natural disaster, the NFIP
   Areas with a 1% annual chance of shallow                     may borrow funds from the U.S. Treasury, and
flooding, usually in the form of a pond, with an                 the debt is repaid within three to five years.
average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These                       Areas that lie within the floodplain are
areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life                at particularly high risk for flooding and are
of a 30-year mortgage.                                          designated as Special Flood Hazard Areas.
                                                                Homeowners in a Special Flood Hazard Area
Zone AO. (High risk)                                            or a high risk area may be required by their
   River or stream flood hazard areas, and areas                 mortgage lender to have flood insurance. The
with a 1% or greater chance of shallow flooding                  purchase of flood insurance is also mandatory
each year, usually in the form of sheet flow, with               for properties located in coastal areas desig-
an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These                nated as Zone V, Zone VE, and Zone V1-30.
areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life                You can find out your zone by looking at the
of a 30-year mortgage.                                          Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for your
Zone AR. (High risk)
                                                                   A community’s participation in the NFIP is
   Areas with a temporarily increased flood risk
                                                                voluntary. If your community does not partic-
due to the building or restoration of a flood con-
                                                                ipate, you are not eligible to purchase federal
trol system (such as a levee or dam).
                                                                flood insurance. You can check participating
Zone A99. (High risk)                                           communities by visiting http://www.fema.
   Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding                     gov/fema/csb.shtm.
that will be protected by a Federal flood control                   In order to remain in good standing in the
system where construction has reached specified                  NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce a
legal requirements.                                             flood damage prevention ordinance.
                                                                   Generally, emphasis of an ordinance is
Zones V, VE, & V 1-30. (High risk)                              limited to activities in Special Flood Hazard
   Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of                 Areas, considered the regulatory floodplain.
flooding and an additional hazard associated with                   Contact your local Floodplain Manager or
storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of                   Building Official for more information on the
flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.                    requirements for and before any construction
                           (Source:   in a Special Flood Hazard Area.
 FLOOD INSURANCE COVERAGE                                 Items Covered by Flood Insurance
   Flood insurance           building coverage and        Covered                      Not covered
through NFIP covers          $100,000 in personal
loss of property caused      property insurance cov-      The insured building         Vehicles
by flood damage. NFIP         erage.                       Built-in appliances          Decks and plants
also covers flood debris          Non-residential          and central air
cleanup costs and floor       buildings (schools,
surfaces (replacement of     churches, businesses,        Permanently installed pan-   Land and fences
                                                          eling, wallpaper, cabinets
carpeting, etc.).            etc.) are eligible for up
                                                          and carpets
   It does not cover         to $500,000 in building
water damage resulting       coverage and $500,000        Limited coverage for         Animals
from wind damage, such       in personal property
as water damage caused       coverage.                    Debris removal               Currency
after roof damage from          Building coverage         Contents, if contents        Boats
winds (see “Items Cov-       and personal property        coverage has been
ered by Flood Insur-         coverage policies have       purchased
ance”).                      separate deductibles.
   Supplemental cover-          For structures lo-        Garage                       Swimming pools
age is also available that   cated in low to moder-      building and $8,000           age (per building) for
covers loss of personal      ate flood risk zones, the    contents coverage for         $500 per year.
property/contents to a       Preferred Risk Policy       $112 per year ($25 more         Business owners
specified limit.              is also available, but      if there is a basement).      who lease their space:
   Residential 1- to 4-      some exclusions apply.          Renters: $8,000           $50,000 contents cover-
family unit dwellings        Coverage for the Pre-       contents coverage for as      age for $112 per year.
and residential buildings    ferred Risk Policy is as    little as $39 per year.         About 25 percent of
containing more than         follows:                        Business owners:          paid NFIP claims are for
four units are eligible         Homeowners: a            $50,000 building and          policies in the low or
for up to $250,000 in        minimum of $20,000          $50,000 contents cover-       moderate risk zones.

                                                          PURCHASING FLOOD INSURANCE
             COASTAL BARRIER                                 To purchase flood          insurance.
              RESOURCES ACT                               insurance, contact your          A Certificate of Ele-
                                                          homeowners insur-            vation is required if the
      The Coastal Barrier Resources Act (CRBA)            ance agent. If he or she     structure was built after
   of 1982 restricted development in important            is unfamiliar with the       Dec. 31, 1974, or is in
   coastal barriers which protect inland areas            program, you may find         high risk flood zones
   from flooding and provide coastal habitat.              agents in your area at       (zones starting with the
      These areas included ocean-front land, the          http://www.floodsmart.        letters A or V).
   Great Lakes, barrier islands, and other coastal        gov/floodsmart/pages/            Contact a licensed
   habitats.                                              agentsearch/searchform.      land surveyor to have a
       Developments within a CRBA area are                jsp.                         certificate completed.
   only eligible to participate in the NFIP if               Depending on the             Renters are eligible
   structures were built prior to 1982; otherwise,        location and age of the      to purchase coverage
   private flood insurance may be obtained.                structure, a Certificate      to cover the contents of
                                                          of Elevation may be re-      their residence in the
                                                          quired to purchase flood      event of a flood.
                            FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAPS (FIRMs)
                      To determine an area’s
                   flood risk, FEMA con-
                   ducts a Flood Insurance
                   Study (FIS) of the area.
                   Data collected includes
                   river flow, storm tides,
                   rainfall, topography
A FIRM shows       (land elevations), and
a community’s      hydrologic and hydraulic
base elevations,   analysis.
flood zones            This data is analyzed
and floodplain      for flood risk and flood
boundaries.        zones are delineated on
                   maps, known as Flood
                   Insurance Rate Maps
                      FIRMs are used for
                                               A sample Flood Insurance Rate Map illustrates Zones X
                   floodplain management
                                               and AE (circled).
                   and insurance purposes.
                      A FIRM shows a           or purchase FIRMs on        erate risk zones (starting
                   community’s base flood       the FEMA Map Services       with the letters B, C, and
                   elevations, flood zones,     Center Web page (http://    X) are lightly shaded or
                   and floodplain boundar-          not shaded at all.
                   ies. Due to changes in      ness/nfip/mscjumppage.          The above FIRM il-
                   the community or the        shtm).                      lustrates this shading.
                   watershed, FIRMs are           When reading a              Zone AE is shaded
                   periodically updated        FIRM, keep in mind that     and labeled while Zone
                   (see “Why Flood Maps        Special Flood Hazard        X has both light shading
                   Change”). Only the          Areas and high risk         and no shading. Zone X
                   most recently updated       zones (zones starting       also is labled.
                   map for a community is      with the letters A or V)       These labels have
                   in effect.                  are darkly shaded on the    been circled on the
                      Anyone can view and/     map, while low to mod-      FIRM for illustration.

                                                    WHY FLOOD MAPS CHANGE
                                                  People discussing flood insurance frequently say,
 Flood maps can change                         “This area has never flooded before. Why should I
 because of development.                       worry now?”
                                                  However, changes in a watershed can influence
                                               flooding potential and flood zone designations.
                                                  Increased amounts of impervious surfaces (such
                                               as parking lots, roads, and buildings) allow less
                                               water to be absorbed into the soil. The surfaces help
                                               create more stormwater runoff that can cause more
                                               downstream flooding.
                                                  Because of development, flood zones can change.