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
www.ﬂoodsmart.gov channel, a ﬂood-
plain, and upland
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 ﬂoodsmart.gov,
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?”
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 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: http://www.ﬂoodsmart.gov) 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
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,
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
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- www.fema.gov/busi- 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
Because of development, ﬂood zones can change.