Main Content

Coastal Resources for Homeowners, Renters, Business Owners & General Public

This page provides useful information for homeowners, renters, business owners and members of the general public regarding the ongoing coastal analysis and mapping effort.

Figure 1 - Biloxi, Miss., June 6, 2008--Jennifer Lapointe, with children Caroline and Jackson, look at information on preparedness and mitigation at a Hurricane Expo at Edgewater Mall.  FEMA provided educational materials and the mitigation "dawg house" to educate property owners on how to build stronger and safer along the Gulf Coast.  Photo by Jennifer Smits/FEMA.   FEMA photo 35549

Biloxi, Miss., June 6, 2008--Jennifer Lapointe, with children Caroline and Jackson, look at information on preparedness and mitigation at a Hurricane Expo at Edgewater Mall.  FEMA provided educational materials and the mitigation "dawg house" to educate property owners on how to build stronger and safer along the Gulf Coast.

A nation prepared for a natural hazard is a nation resilient. Unfortunately, no community, family or business is immune to disaster. The expansion of communities into previously undeveloped areas, especially in coastal waterfront areas, has increased over the last several decades. As a means of reducing the increased risk associated with building in high-hazard areas, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as administrator of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has established minimum floodplain management standards that coastal communities who voluntarily participate in the NFIP must adopt for developing more safely in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs)—also known as the 1-percent annual chance flood area.

What You Should Know and Why  

  • FEMA identified and prioritized the coastal flood risk studies on the basis of mapping needs, flood risk, community and state cost share and cost efficiencies so that areas most in need would be provided with updated FIRMs and FISs as efficiently and expeditiously as possible.

  • Under Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP), FEMA works with scientists and engineers from other federal agencies, state, regional, community, tribal, non-profit, nongovernmental and private-sector partners to determine the flood risk for properties along the populated U.S. coastline. If you live along the coast, your community may have recently received or may soon receive an updated Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Refer to the Coastal Flood Risk Process page for additional information.

  • To find out the progress of your community’s coastal mapping project, please visit the Risk MAP Progress Website through Risk MAP. 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.  For additional information on the flood risk study process, refer to the Coastal Flood Risk Study Process page.

  • Through the release of the FIRMs and associated Flood Insurance Studies (FISs), some property owners will discover that their risk is higher than they thought, while others will find out that the risk is lower. Changes in the flood insurance risk zones shown on the FIRMs can affect where flood insurance is required, the cost of flood insurance premiums and the requirements for new and improved buildings and other development.

  • It is critical that homeowners, renters, business owners and the general public understand their flood hazards as defined by the new FIRMs, as well as the potential consequences that hazards may have on their property, in order to make more informed decisions about how to reduce the chance of flood losses (life, property and business).

How You Should Use the New Flood Hazard Maps and Reports

  • After a coastal engineering study is completed, FEMA maps the results and issues a set of draft (preliminary) maps for community review. 

  • These FIRMs and FISs will not be used by insurance agents and companies to determine flood insurance requirements and premiums until the study has been reviewed and adopted by your local community.

  • Draft (preliminary) maps provide the community with an additional set of information to understand how coastal and flooding risks have changed overtime in your community.

  • This draft (preliminary) information allows you as a home owner/business owner to a compare current flood risk with the historic flood risk depicted on the flood hazard map adopted by your community. Access your community's preliminary flood hazard data, go to FEMA's Preliminary Flood Hazard Data page.

  • In areas where flood risk has increased, communities may use the draft (preliminary) mapping to manage future development of the floodplain and in other planning contexts. 

  • Refer to the Coastal Flood Risk Study Process page for additional information on coastal FIRMs.

  • If you have a federally-insured mortgage and the community in which you live receives new FIRMs, your lender may make new flood zone determinations once the FIRM and FIS become effective. Find out more information about when flood insurance is required on our Coastal Frequently Asked Questions page.

  • Once the new FIRM for your community is released, educate yourself on your flood hazards and designated risk level. Use the FIRMs to make more informed decisions about where to buy property and/or how to retrofit your property against flooding.

Steps You Can Take

  • Reduce your risk of loss in the event of a flood by buying or building outside of the SFHA and/or by elevating your structure above the Base Flood Elevation shown on the FIRM using special techniques developed for coastal construction.

  • Learn how you can reduce your flood risk and increase your community’s disaster resilience by reviewing FEMA’s tips on how to build or rebuild smarter, safer and stronger and best practices included by state in the Best Practices and Case Studies Portfolio.

  • If you are in the process of, or planning on, building or retrofitting your home or business in a coastal flood hazard area, have your architect/engineer or contractor use FEMA’s technical resources for Residential Coastal Construction.

  • Mitigation and consistent business operations can help a community recover more quickly after a flood. To help facilitate insurance claims and federal assistance in the event of a flood, business owners should keep detailed records of equipment, inventory and any items of value located at their place of business. For more information on business disaster preparedness plans, visit's Business site.

  • To prepare your whole family and learn tips on creating a family preparedness kit visit's Make a Plan site.

  • To protect you, your family and your home or business from loss; discuss the benefits of purchasing an insurance policy with your insurance agent or company today. If your property was newly mapped into a high-risk flood zone on or after October 1, 2008, you may be eligible for the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy for up to two years.  Visit to find a local flood insurance agent.

For More Information

Last Updated: 
06/05/2020 - 08:42