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FEMA is conducting an in-depth, large-scale series of studies to re-examine flood hazards and related risks in the coastal communities.  This will result in new Flood Insurance Studies (FISs) and associated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that will reflect up to date coastal flood hazard information.

As a result, property owners throughout the U.S. will have up-to-date, reliable and internet-accessible information about their flood risk. Some residents and business owners will learn that their flood risk is designated as higher—or lower—than on the previous FIRM.

As a home builder, developer, and/or construction professional, it is important for you to understand flood zones and how they relate to building codes/standards, client/buyer hazard risks and expectations, and ultimately the sustainability of your projects.  There are steps you can take in the siting, design, and construction of your properties that can reduce risk--potentially lowering flood insurance premium and protecting the property from coastal storm damage.

This page provides useful information regarding the ongoing coastal analysis and mapping effort:

  • What You Should Know and Why
  • Steps You Can Take
  • For More Information

What You Should Know and Why

As part of the Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) effort, FEMA has undertaken a scientific and engineering effort to update Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Studies (FISs) in populated coastal areas nationwide.  This FEMA-led effort is being undertaken in cooperation with other Federal agencies, State agencies, regional entities, non-profit organizations (including universities and professional associations), local communities, and Tribal entities.  To learn more about this multi-year effort, click on the following link to the Coastal Flood Risk Study Process page.

As the coastal engineering analyses are completed, each jurisdiction hosts a formal meeting and/or open house where FEMA and their Federal, State, and regional partners present the new versions of the digital FIRMs to community officials and the general public.  To find out the progress of your community’s coastal mapping project, please visit the Risk MAP Project Status website.  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).  To use this website, you may be required to download a browser plug-in. 

Take advantage of free FEMA technical guidance for building stronger and safer along the coast.  In some cases, this guidance goes above local building code requirements.  If you are a premium quality developer, this guidance enables you to offer significant risk reduction to discerning buyers willing to go the extra step toward disaster resilience.

Building code-related information:

  • CodeMaster for Flood Resistant Design (2011).  Provides designers with an easy-to-use desk reference that identifies the flood provisions in the 2009 and 2012 International Building Code® (IBC®) and International Residential Code® (IRC®), as well as the flood requirements of American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) standards 7-05, 7-10, and 24-05. The eight-page guide provides sections on preliminary considerations and design process, key flood terminology, a 12-step process to incorporate flood resistance in the design of a building, an example showing the 12-step process being executed, and information on additional FEMA mitigation resources related to flood-resistant design. This guide can be purchased from the International Code Council.

  • FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) Reports include technical and engineering design recommendations for structures based on findings from a number of natural disasters.  Click here to read the FEMA MAT Reports.

Steps You Can Take

  • Recommend that your clients build outside of the high-risk SFHAs and/or build to flood-resistant standards using the above-listed resources.

  • Know the Letter of Map Change process, if you believe the flood zone is incorrect or if your development activities will change the floodplain.

  • Adhere to NFIP and accepted industry building codes for hurricane and flood-resistant design.

For More Information

  • The Coastal Risk Resources page, organized by region and stakeholder group, 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.

Last Updated: 
02/05/2014 - 10:57
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