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Floodplain Management Information for Communities

This page contains information for communities who currently participate in or are interested in joining the National Flood Insurance Program.

Communities: Managing to a Higher Standard

Becoming a Participating Community

Joining the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is an important step toward reducing a community’s risk of flooding and making a speedier, more sustained recovery should flooding occur. It also allows property owners within a participating community to purchase NFIP flood insurance and receive disaster assistance for flood-related damage. Participation is voluntary and more than 22,000 communities have already agreed to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances that provide flood-loss reduction building standards for new and existing development. See the Community Status Book for a list of all participating communities. If your community does not participate, please read Joining the National Flood Insurance Program and consider contacting your FEMA Regional Office or the NFIP State Coordinating Agency for information on how to join. These offices will provide an application, a sample resolution and a model floodplain management ordinance.

Adopting Higher Standards

Participating counties, municipalities and tribal nations can become stronger and more resilient by taking the following actions:

  • Adopting and enforcing higher floodplain management standards than NFIP minimum requirements (e.g., higher freeboard, lower substantial damage ratios)
  • Maintaining rigorous enforcement
  • Promoting open space through property buyouts and community planning
  • Encouraging responsible building practices

Flooded neighborhood streetHigher standards can be adopted at any time. The flood map adoption process near the end of a new Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) study process is a good opportunity to improve those standards. With higher standards, a community can expect faster recovery from flooding events, lower impact to other properties and communities and reduced financial and physical effects on individual property owners. In addition, flood insurance premiums for home and business owners can be reduced substantially if communities build higher and actively participate in the Community Rating System (CRS).

The Floodplain Management Branch has published a series of fact sheets that explain some of the more common applications of higher standards:

Community Rating System Provides Additional Incentives

The CRS was created to encourage communities to establish sound programs that recognize and encourage floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. By conducting mitigation and outreach activities that increase safety and resilience, communities can earn credits and discounts (up to 45 percent) on flood insurance premiums for property owners.

Tools and Resources to Support Higher Standards

States, as well as FEMA and other federal agencies, can provide participating communities with tools and resources to help support adoption of higher standards and, in turn, become more resilient. For example, FEMA’s Community Assistance Program-State Support Services Element (CAP-SSSE) is a grant program whereby states receive funding to provide technical assistance to local communities. The CAP-SSSE is intended to help states proactively identify, prevent and resolve floodplain management issues in participating communities before a flood event even occurs.

Federal grants and other programs, such as FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grants, may be available to communities to help pay for mitigation projects that reduce flooding impacts.

FEMA publishes the Floodplain Management Requirements Study Guide and Desk Reference for local officials who are responsible for administering their community's floodplain management regulations. The reference has guidance on handling specific issues and explains requirements to community members.

Additional floodplain management resources are available for download. They can also be ordered by phone through the FEMA Publication Distribution Center at 1-800-480-2520. (Publications may be requested by their FEMA number.)

Floodplain managers are encouraged to take related training courses offered by the Emergency Management Institute, the Association of State Floodplain Managers, their state chapters and other organizations.

Other Resources

Last Updated: 
07/24/2019 - 14:30