Do You Live In A Floodplain?

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Release date: 
July 28, 2003
Release Number: 
1474-71

Charleston, WV -- If you live in a floodplain, you live in an area of high risk even if you have never experienced a flood. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps floodplains and encourages residents to find out if their property is within one so they can be prepared in the event of a storm.

What is a Floodplain?

The non-technical and simplified definition of a floodplain is "an area adjacent to a body of water." But using this definition to determine if your property is in a floodplain is deceiving. You may be located five miles or more from a river or stream and find your house covered with water from the overflow of their banks. Floodplains have varying characteristics and may not be easily identified as such. Communities experiencing large population growth can create a floodplain where none previously existed.

"Our experience leads us to advise the public that everyone lives in a floodplain," said Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. "Flooding can be brought on by rains or by a broken dam or by a drainage system becoming clogged after heavy rains. Even if their property is not in a floodplain, citizens should prepare themselves by getting flood insurance."

Insurance for Floodplain Properties

FEMA statistics show that homes in a floodplain are 26 times more likely to incur damage from a flood than from a fire during a 30-year mortgage. If you want to obtain a mortgage for a property located in a floodplain, and the federal government backs the mortgage, you must purchase flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides insurance to communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage.

In fact, getting a mortgage on a property at risk for flooding would be virtually impossible without the NFIP. Be aware that homeowners' policies do not include this coverage. If you inherit property and want to find out if it is located in a floodplain to purchase insurance, call your County Planning Commissioner. Local communities must participate in the NFIP for residents to obtain coverage. Participation is at the request of the local government and is voluntary.

For more information on the NFIP and on measures you can take to protect your property, visit the FEMA Web site at www.fema.gov/fima.

On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages Citizen Corps, the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.

Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:52