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Frequently Asked Questions

Floodplain Management

What flood zone is my property in?

Flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs), published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, indicate a community's flood hazard areas and degree of risk in those areas. Communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) usually have FIRMs on file in a local repository, such as the local planning, zoning, or engineering office; town hall; or county government headquarters. The OWRB has a floodplain viewer you may use to get a general idea of an area, but the local floodplain administrator for your community will help you with the final determination.

Additionally, portions of the FIRMs can be printed through the FEMA Map Service Center. Due to liability concerns, OWRB employees are prohibited from making FIRM flood hazard determinations unless the determination is for state-owned or -operated property.

Do I need a permit if I want to build something in a floodplain?

You may need a floodplain development permit from the local jurisdiction in which you live, such as a city, town, or county. Prior to any construction or development on your property, you should contact your local floodplain administrator (FPA). A list of local FPAs can be found here. The OWRB only regulates development in floodplains of state-owned or state-operated property.

What happens if there's another storm and I don't have flood insurance?

If you are required to have flood insurance and don't purchase it, then you will not be eligible for federal disaster relief for damage to your building or contents in the case of a future storm. You may still be eligible for help for other purposes, like temporary housing.

What is a Preferred Risk Policy?

A Preferred Risk Policy is an inexpensive policy for properties in moderate- and low-risk flood zones (Zone X or not in a flood zone) with limited claims history. A full policy costs under $500 per year. If you opt for less coverage, the premium is cheaper.

My lender requires I carry flood insurance, but I think the flood map may be wrong. What can I do?

Contact your local FPA and ask them about a Letter of Map Change (LOMC). If you can provide data showing your property should not be included on a FIRM, lenders will often remove the insurance requirement or you may qualify for a cheaper rate. Of course it is up to the lender to decide if they require insurance on a property regardless of its location.

My property is in a regulatory floodplain, but my community does not participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. Can I purchase flood insurance?

Currently, an NFIP policy is only available in participating communities. Flood insurance may be available through private insurers and underwriters. The rates and premiums are set by those companies and the underwriters, rated on the degree of risk involved. The OWRB does not have any jurisdiction over these providers and cannot recommend any providers.

My property is not in a regulatory floodplain. Can I/Should I still get flood insurance?

You may purchase flood insurance from any licensed insurance agent, regardless of where you live in an NFIP member community. In fact it may be advisable, considering that FEMA data shows almost 30% of flood insurance claims occur outside of the regulatory floodplain/Special Flood Hazard Area. For information on policies or rates, please visit http://www.floodsmart.gov or consult a licensed insurance agent.

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Last updated: December 11, 2020

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