Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps?
The Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps are a series of 239 aerial photographs that show several kinds of data for areas along the Florida and Alabama coastline. They were developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in cooperation with other public agencies in the two States, using pre-existing data combined with information obtained immediately after Hurricane Ivan. The new information includes high water marks, “debris limits,” and observed flood limits.
What do the maps show?
The Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps provide the following information shown on aerial photographs:
- The limits of the flooding, or surge inundation, caused by Hurricane Ivan. The Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps graphically show the approximate maximum extent of coastal floodwaters from Ivan.
- The “debris limit” from Hurricane Ivan. During most floods, moving water transports wreckage and other storm debris and drops it at the outermost edge of the flood. Although the flood limit (described above) and the debris limit are usually about the same, there may be differences because, in some cases, the water recedes slightly before the inundation limits can be determined.
- Preliminary storm surge elevation contours. Based on high water marks that were surveyed soon after Hurricane Ivan, FEMA developed a general schematic showing the height of the storm surge along the coastline. This information is shown on the map as elevation contours (or lines), and in each map’s title block as an estimated range of elevations.
- Boundaries of existing FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The FIRMs are the basis for risk determinations for flood insurance. All of the coastal communities that were impacted by Hurricane Ivan already have FIRMs that have been adopted for local floodplain management. The most important features of these maps are the boundary of the so-called 100-year floodplain and the Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), which reflect the height that the floodwater is expected to reach during a 100-year flood. These two types of information are used to determine flood insurance requirements and insurance premiums. The existing 100-year floodplain boundaries, BFEs, and flood zone types (A zone or V Zone) from each community’s FIRM are shown on the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps.
Why were the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps developed?
The maps were developed to provide local governments and citizens with the best and most current information available about coastal flood hazards to assist in the rebuilding process.
How can I get a copy of the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps?
The maps can be found on the Ivan Internet web site, www.fema.gov/hurricane-ivan-inundation-maps. They can be viewed or downloaded from the site in a PDF format using the free Adobe® Acrobat Reader software, which is available from the Adobe® website (www.adobe.com). Refer also to the Hurricane Ivan Fact Sheet on the Hurricane Ivan web site.
How can I determine which Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Map covers my area?
The www.fema.gov/hurricane-ivan-inundation-maps web site includes general reference maps that show coastal areas in four counties in Alabama (Baldwin) and Florida (Escambia, Okaloosa, and Santa Rosa). The Ivan Maps, which cover much smaller areas in greater detail, can be found by first clicking the mouse on the desired county of interest. Then, click individual Ivan Map panel (for example, “A1”), and the map will open in a separate browser window. The Ivan Maps can then be saved to a personal computer or printed. The individual Ivan Maps are 34 inches by 22 inches in size (ANSI D); all maps can be scaled to print on smaller sheets of paper using the printing options provided in the Adobe® Acrobat Reader software.
Do these maps mean that my house is now in the 100-year floodplain?
No, the effective FIRM for a community is the official document that is used to determine if a particular building or property is in the 100-year floodplain.
Will my flood insurance premium increase because of these maps?
The data that were used to create the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps may eventually be used to update the existing FIRMs, but the update requires a very specific process involving FEMA, citizens of the community, and local governments. It is possible that flood insurance premiums will increase when the FIRMs are updated in the future, but the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps will not change insurance premiums directly.
Will community officials require me to elevate my house because that map shows that I was flooded by Hurricane Ivan?
In order to remain in good standing with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), communities must meet established standards for reducing flood risks, including ensuring that certain heavily damaged structures are protected by elevating them or using other such protective methods when they are rebuilt. Although the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps are not directly related to such rules, local governments may independently require rebuilding to standards higher than those set by the NFIP in order to better protect their citizens and prevent future flood damages and recovery costs. In these cases, communities may choose to use the Hurricane Ivan Surge Inundation Maps as one basis for developing rebuilding standards. Citizens should contact their local government for assistance with this issue.
Are new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) being created?
FEMA anticipates that the FIRMs will be updated based on new information generated by Hurricane Ivan and other engineering studies. The timing for these updates will be determined later.
When will the new FIRMs be approved?
At this time it has not been determined when updated FIRMs will be developed and approved. As noted earlier, approval of FIRMs is a public process, and citizens and local government officials will be encouraged to review and comment on updated maps during their development and adoption.
If I am elevating my house, can I use these maps to determine the appropriate height?
Although the preliminary storm surge contours on these maps generally represent the elevation of the coastal surge during Hurricane Ivan, they are approximations based on the best data available at the time, mainly high water marks. These elevations cover a broad area of the coast, but are based on a total of only about 125 surveyed water marks. Because of this and other factors, such as the estimated frequency of Hurricane Ivan (which has not yet been definitively determined) and additional flooding effects caused by waves, the surge elevations shown on the maps should be used only as general guidelines in determining the height to which structures should be elevated. Local officials can provide more information to help with the decision regarding appropriate elevation heights.
Who do I contact if I want more information?
The “Contact Information” page of the Hurricane Ivan Flood Recovery Map web site (www.fema.gov/hurricane-ivan-inundation-maps) provides information on how to reach local officials involved with floodplain management. Similar contacts at the state and Federal level are also provided, but your local government will be the best source of information concerning rebuilding requirements in your area. On the “Additional Resources” page, the Hurricane Ivan Flood Recovery Maps web site also provides links to information about the storm, the NFIP, and key regional, State, and local agencies.