The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The NFIP regulations and enabling legislation require active involvement and cooperation from local communities that choose to join the program. In order to help communities become more disaster resilient, an agreement is made between local communities and FEMA wherein a community adopts and enforces local floodplain management standards that meet or exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. In exchange, flood insurance is available to the community.
As a community official, it is your responsibility to ensure that your community is well educated on the coastal flood risk studies, Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), and that this information is used as a framework to guide development, reducing future flood risk and losses.
This page provides useful information for community officials regarding the ongoing coastal analysis and mapping effort:
What You Should Know and Why
Risk MAP (Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning) is an effort by FEMA to deliver quality data that increases public awareness and leads to action that reduces risk to life and property. Updated digital FIRMs in coastal areas are a product of Risk MAP. By providing updated coastal flood hazard information, FEMA aims to help you increase the understanding of local flood risk, encourage mitigation efforts, and improve your community’s resilience to flood losses (life, property, and business) in coastal areas.
To find out the progress of your community’s coastal mapping project, please visit the Risk MAP Progress Website through the Risk MAP webpage. This website offers an interactive map that allows users to zoom in, locate their community, and click to learn about the project status (i.e. time frame for their preliminary and effective maps). For additional information on the flood risk studies in your area, refer to the Coastal Flood Risk Studies page.
Flooding occurs not only in high-risk areas known as “Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs),” or "the floodplain," but also in low- to moderate-risk areas. Approximately 20 to 25 percent of all flood insurance claims nationwide come from areas that are outside of the floodplain.
All NFIP participating communities must adopt and enforce minimum standards for managing construction and development in mapped SFHAs. When communities implement floodplain management to standards above the NFIP minimums, they can get credit for this effort by applying to the Community Rating System (CRS). The higher the community's CRS rating, the deeper the discount community residents receive on flood insurance premiums. The CRS recognizes communities for their additional efforts to (1) reduce flood damage to insurable property; (2) strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the NFIP; and (3) encourage a comprehensive approach to floodplain management. For information about the CRS, visit the FEMA CRS Webpage.
Note that post-disaster recovery and mitigation planning is credited under the Community Rating System as well.
Knowing and understanding your community’s flood risk is the first step toward making your community more disaster resilient. As a community official, you will be able to make more informed decisions on where to build and how structures should be constructed; decreasing the chance of flood losses (life, property, and business) in your jurisdiction.
Outreach efforts should be initiated at the onset and continued throughout the coastal flood risk study. As a local official, you should strive to identify and engage stakeholders within your study area through the local media and via electronic announcements, mailings, public meetings, and other avenues. Fostering early discussion about the study will result in a better, more accurate outcome, and increased awareness of and support for mitigation actions to reduce your coastal flood risk and improve your community’s resilience.
It is your responsibility to work with FEMA to effectively communicate flood risk and create mitigation plans in your community. Contact your local FEMA Regional representative to determine the status of your coastal flood map update.
Steps You Can Take
Review resources for community planning and mitigation steps you can take, including Mitigation Ideas: A Resource for Reducing Risk to Natural Hazards.
Reduce your community’s risk of loss in the event of a coastal flood by designating flood-prone areas as open spaces such as community parks.
Require building outside of the high-risk Special Flood Hazard Areas and/or require the elevation of new structures to be above the Base Flood Elevation. Use coastal (V Zone) construction practices in areas seaward of the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA). Avoid construction in dynamic, erosion-prone areas. Encourage citizens to take advantage of FEMA's technical guidance for Coastal Construction.
In addition to NFIP floodplain management ordinances, consider adopting and enforcing wind and flood-resistant building codes. Also, see the Best Practices for Incorporating Building Science Guidance into Community Risk MAP Implementation.
Take advantage of technical guidance available from FEMA Building Sciences on building stronger and safer in high wind and flood-prone areas especially the Local Official’s Guide to Coastal Construction.
Do not allow development or re-development in areas within the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS). The Coastal Barrier Resource Act removes the Federal incentive to develop these areas by designating relatively undeveloped coastal barriers along the coasts as part of the CBRS. CBRS areas are identified by the Department of the Interior through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). FEMA is working with FWS to show CBRS areas on the FIRMs where appropriate. Federal flood insurance is not available for structures built or improved in identified CBRS areas.
Mitigation techniques form the foundation for a community’s long-term strategy to reduce disaster losses and break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Applying mitigation techniques would help reduce future risks to the property from natural hazards and their effects. For information on mitigation grants available from the Federal government, please visit FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance pages.
Learn how you can reduce your community’s flood risk and increase its disaster resilience by reviewing FEMA’s tips on how to build or rebuild smarter, safer, and stronger in the Best Practices and Case Studies Portfolio.
Consult FEMA’s Adoption of Flood Insurance Rate Maps by Participating Communities for an overview of a community’s role in adopting the Flood Insurance Rate Maps as a participant in the NFIP.
Visit FEMA’s Community Assistance Program site for more information on how communities in the NFIP can apply for State funding and technical assistance with the implementation of NFIP floodplain management activities.
Find helpful information and tools on FEMA's FloodSmart Community Resources page, including a cost of flooding tool.
Access the final FIRM at your community’s local map repository and online through FEMA’s Map Service Center.
Contact a Map Specialist at the FEMA Map Information eXchange toll free, at 1-877-336-2627 or by email at FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com.
Learn about what resources, grants, and other information is available when Rebuilding After a Coastal Storm.
Find answers to many of your questions by visiting our Coastal Frequently Asked Questions page.
The Coastal Flood Risk Resources page, organized by resources type, contains links to useful fact sheets, flyers, brochures, and other helpful documents produced by FEMA, other Federal agencies, State agencies, Water Management Districts, and other entities.
The FloodSmart Insurance Outreach Toolkit for Flood Map Updates offers Community Officials and other stakeholders a wide-range of flood insurance related outreach materials.
For localized information and tools to assist communities during the coastal flood risk study process, please visit the following websites:
FEMA Region I Risk MAP Workspace Website (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI)
FEMA Region II Coastal FAQs for Community Officials (NJ, NY, PR, USVI)
FEMA Region III Coastal Website (DE, MD, PA, VA)
FEMA Region IV Coastal Information for Community Officials (AL, FL, MS, NC, SC)
Great Lakes Coastal Flood Study Website (FEMA Region V – IL, IN, MI, MN, OH, WI)
TXCHART Coastal Information for Community Officials (FEMA Region VI – LA, TX)
FEMA Region IX Coastal Website (CA, HI, GU, AS, CNMI, RMI, FM)
FEMA Region X Coastal Website (OR, WA)
Subscribe to the Coastal Flood Risks email updates.