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West Virginia Flood Tool

Challenge

To provide public access to flood data to enable users to make informed decisions about the degree of risk for their area or property.

Solution

The West Virginia Technical Center at West Virginia University is a FEMA Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP). In 2006, in partnership with FEMA, the West Virginia State National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Coordinator’s Office and the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security & Emergency Management, the West Virginia Technical Center developed an internet map application called the WV Flood Tool. In support of FEMA’s NFIP, Community Rating System (CRS), and Risk Mapping Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) programs, the WV Flood Tool offers three views: Public, Expert, and Risk MAP. The default “public” view is for the general public, while the “expert” and “Risk MAP” views are for more advanced users.

Public View: The public view allows users to quickly determine whether a property is in or out of a flood zone. It includes 3D flood visualizations rendered from the base flood water depth and building type (residential one- or two-story home, mobile home, commercial/industrial).

Expert View: The expert view supports floodplain managers and experts who enforce compliance with the community’s flood damage prevention ordinance and other NFIP information. It displays the floodway and base flood elevations (BFEs) for regulating new development in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The Expert view displays published Elevation Certificates and positionally accurate Letters of Map Amendment (LOMAs) that are beneficial in determining whether structures are in the SFHA and built above the BFE.

Risk MAP View: The Risk MAP view provides communities with flood information and tools, such as flood depths, they can use to enhance their mitigation plans and take action to better protect their citizens.

Outcome

The West Virginia Flood Tool was initially developed in 2006. The functionality and quality of the WV Flood Tool data layers have been improved over time, resulting in increased use of the application. The West Virginia Flood Tool has been viewed by more than 126,000 visitors this past calendar year and now is one of the most popular web map applications hosted by the state.

Over time the West Virginia Flood Tool has become more than just a flood determination tool. Today, it is routinely used by floodplain managers for building permit applications, floodplain regulations enforcement, pre- and post-disaster assessments, and for receiving flood insurance discount credits.

Benefit

Search Tools and Property Identification: Various map tools allow users to search or zoom to the property of interest. Users can access 1.4 million property assessment records and link to the WV Flood Tool.

Map Tool Searches: Users can search by a city-style address, parcel identifier, owner name, or x-y coordinates. If a building identifier (e.g., 19-02-019A-0022- 0000_257) is known, then users can quickly zoom to the property by entering the full parcel identifier and then identifying the building address.

West Virginia Assessment Search Tool: The West Virginia Assessment Property Search Tool is a companion application of the WV Flood Tool that allows users to perform advanced search and filter queries on all property assessment records. The “Prior Ownership” search option allows users to search the parcel history back to 2005. This option is useful for verifying the positional accuracies of LOMAs and Mitigated Buyout Properties when prior owner and deed book information is recorded.

The “advanced” search option allows users to search for new structures in the floodplain. For example, the following filter parameters (County of Interest, Flood Hazard = High, Minimum Building Appraisal = $50,000, Building Year Minimum = 2018) will result in a record listing all parcels that intersected high-risk flood zones for the 2018-19 tax years and where building values exceed $50,000.

Property Assessment Reports: Detailed web assessment reports are available for each property in West Virginia. The assessment reports list details of every structure (main buildings and outbuildings) on a single parcel and include owner name, mailing address, property location, tax class (owner occupied), deed book/ page number, deed and calculated acreage, legal description, land use, building and land values, building characteristics, building year, secondary structures, sales history, parcel history, building sketch diagrams, and flood zone hazard risk. Building sketches with dimensions and additions are displayed for residential and farm properties. These sketch diagrams are beneficial for distinguishing between multiple structures located in a single parcel.

Risk MAP Phases

This project involved the following Risk MAP phases:

  • Risk Awareness and Mitigation Outreach

Risk MAP Goals Advanced

The Risk MAP goals that were advanced through this project included:

  • Increased Deployment
  • Identifying Action

Lessons Learned

Future directions for the Flood Tool will enhance the Risk MAP View to include detailed building flood loss estimates for the more than 100,000 flood structures in the SFHAs of West Virginia. Community flood risk profiles and educational resources will be created for 287 incorporated/unincorporated jurisdictions and linked to the Flood Tool through an online dashboard. A continued focus of the Flood Tool will be to identify state-based credits to make communities more resilient and lower their flood insurance rates through FEMA’s CRS program. As for updating flood maps in West Virginia, the FEMA-purchased Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) elevation data will be the driver for completing statewide gridded base flood heights and water depths.

Resources

Desktop Version

Mobile Version

Property Search and Report

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Last updated May 11, 2021