A FIRM is a map on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delineated both the areas of special flood hazards and the risk premium zones applicable within the community.
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Federal Emergency Management Agency - the operation of FEMA is to lead America to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover from disasters.
A flood is a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties from overflow of inland or tidal waters, from unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or from mudflow.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines a floodplain as a land area that is susceptible to being inundated by water from any source.
The NFIP is a Federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase insurance protection against losses from flooding. This insurance is designed to provide an insurance alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods.
Participation in the NFIP is based on an agreement between local communities and the Federal Government that states if a community will adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risks to new construction in Special Flood Hazard Areas, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available within the community as a financial protection against flood losses.
Through the NFIP, property owners in the City of Cedar Park are able to insure against flood losses. Careful management of development in the floodplains results in construction practices that can reduce public and private flood losses. A major purpose of the program is to alert property owners to the danger of flooding and to assist them in reducing potential property losses.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community actions meeting the three goals of the CRS:
The City of Cedar Park is currently in the process of obtaining a CRS rating.
The land area covered by the floodwaters of the base flood (a flood having a 1% chance of occurring in any given year) is the Special Flood Hazard Area on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) maps. A high-risk flood zone is called a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). It's also known as the 1% annual chance floodplain, commonly referred to as the "100-year floodplain." The 100-year flood is a standard used by the NFIP for floodplain management and to determine the need for flood insurance. Development may take place within the SFHA, provided that development complies with local floodplain management ordinances, which must meet the minimum Federal requirements. Flood insurance is required for insurable structures within high-risk areas to protect Federal financial investments and assistance used for acquisition and/or construction purposes within communities participating in the NFIP.
The computed elevation to which floodwater is expected to rise during the base flood. BFE are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) and on the flood profiles. The BFE is the regulatory requirement for the elevation or flood proofing of structures. The relationship between the BFE and a structure's elevation determines the flood insurance premium.
The term "100-year flood" is misleading. It is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. Rather, it is the flood elevation that has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded each year. Thus, the 100-year flood could occur more than once in a relatively short period of time. People outside of the 100-year floodplain are free of regulatory requirements, but not of risk. Federally-backed flood insurance is available to people outside of the 100-year flood zone as well.
Printing out a Flood Insurance Rate Map, (FIRMette) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Map Service Center is the most up-to-date information provided on the maps that will not only allow you to view your property, but will also allow you to print out a copy so that you may present to your lender or insurance agent if you are ever asked. Most agents or lending facilities want to see an actual FIRMette map printed directly from FEMA's website for their records.
You may also submit a request to the City of Cedar Park's Engineering Department by email or by calling 512-401-5000. Please include addressing information with your request.
Insurance: You should seriously consider purchasing flood insurance. Your homeowner's or renter's insurance policy does not cover flooding. To purchase flood insurance, contact your regular homeowners' insurance agent.
Preparation: Your family is at risk for flooding, which can happen quickly and without warning. Prepare a family disaster plan in advance for your best protection. The American Red Cross has excellent publications in English and Spanish to help you with this process. Your planning should include:
Restrictions: In some floodplain areas, development permits may be denied. The City of Cedar Park requires building permits for remodeling, improving, expanding, or rebuilding your home, buildings, parking areas, etc. If your property is in a floodplain, you will have to make all projects compliant with stricter rules for floodplain construction.
If you do not have a mortgage and do not live in the flood plain, you are not affected and will not be required to buy flood insurance. If you do have a mortgage but do not live in the flood plain, you are not required to purchase flood insurance.
If you do not have a mortgage but do live in the flood plain, you are not directly affected. However you may want to consider buying flood insurance, but you are not required to. If you provide FEMA an Elevation Certificate and the technical data that can prove that the water will never reach your structure, you may get out of having your structure in a flood plain.
If you do have a mortgage (or line of credit based on the home) and do live in the flood plain, you are affected and will no doubt be required to buy flood insurance. If flood waters barely touch your property, the whole property is declared to be in the flood plain. If you provide FEMA an Elevation Certificate and the technical data that can prove that the water will never reach your structure, you may possibly get re-rated a lower flood insurance quote.
Pre-FIRM buildings are those built before the effective date of the first Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for a community. This means they were built before detailed flood hazard data and flood elevations were provided to the community and usually before the community enacted comprehensive regulations on floodplain regulation. Pre-FIRM buildings can be insured using "subsidized" rates. These rates are designed to help people afford flood insurance even though their buildings were not built with flood protection in mind.
Post-FIRM buildings are new construction and those built after the effective date of the first FIRM for a community. Insurance rates for Post-FIRM buildings are dependent on the elevation of the lowest floor in relation to the BFE.
A community's permit file must have an official record that shows new buildings and substantial improvements in all identified SFHAs are properly elevated. This elevation information is needed to show compliance with the floodplain management ordinance. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) encourages communities to use the Elevation Certificate developed by FEMA to fulfill this requirement since it also can be used by the property owner to obtain flood insurance. Communities participating in the Community Rating System (CRS) are required to use the FEMA Elevation Certificate.
Elevation Certificates must be prepared and certified by a land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is authorized by commonwealth, state, or local law to certify elevation information. Community officials who are authorized by local law or ordinance to provide floodplain management information may also sign the certificate. Elevations must be certified by a licensed engineer or surveyor and approved by the City of Cedar Park Floodplain Administrator if the elevation certificate is intended to support an application for a Letter of Map Amendment or a Letter of Map Revision based on Fill.
The Elevation Certificate is an important administrative tool of the NFIP. It is to be used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, to determine the proper insurance premium rate, and to support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Revision based on Fill (LOMR-F). The Elevation Certificate is required in order to properly rate Post-FIRM buildings, which are buildings constructed after publication of the FIRM located in Flood Zones. The Elevation Certificate is not required for Pre-FIRM buildings unless the building is being rated under the optional Post-FIRM flood insurance rules. Use of this certificate does not provide a waiver of the flood insurance purchase requirement.
Letter of Map Change - a letter from FEMA which reflects an official revision to an effective NFIP map. LOMCs are issued in place of the physical revision and republication of the effective map.
A CLOMA is FEMA's comment on whether a proposed project would be excluded from the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) shown on the effective National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) map. There is no appeal period. The letter becomes effective on the date sent. This letter does not revise an effective NFIP map, it indicates whether the project, if built as proposed, would or would not be removed from the SFHA by FEMA if later submitted as a request for a Letter of Map Amendment.
A CLOMR is FEMA's comment on a proposed project that would affect the hydrologic and/or hydraulic characteristics of a flooding source and thus result in the modification of the existing regulatory floodway or effective Base Flood Elevations. There is no appeal period. The letter becomes effective on the date sent. This letter does not revise an effective National Flood Insurance Program map, it indicates whether the project, if built as proposed, would or would not be removed from the Special Flood Hazard Area by FEMA if later submitted as a request for a Letter of Map Revision.
A CLOMR-F is FEMA's comment on whether a proposed project involving the placement of fill would exclude an area from the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) shown on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) map. There is no appeal period. The letter becomes effective on the date sent.
This letter does not revise an effective NFIP map, it indicates whether the project, if built as proposed, would or would not be removed from the SFHA by FEMA if later submitted as a request for a Letter of Map Revision based on Fill.
A LOMA is an official amendment, by letter, to an effective National Flood Insurance Program map. A LOMA establishes a property's location in relation to the Special Flood Hazard Area. There is no appeal period. The letter becomes effective on the date sent.
A LOMR is an official revision, by letter, to an effective National Flood Insurance Program map. A LOMR may change flood insurance risk zones, floodplain and/or floodway boundary delineations, planimetric features, and/or Base Flood Elevations.
A LOMR-F is an official revision, by letter, to an effective National Flood Insurance Program map. A LOMR-F provides FEMA's determination concerning whether a structure or parcel has been elevated on fill above the Base Flood Elevation and excluded from the Special Flood Hazard Area. The letter becomes effective on the date sent.
For single building or single lot determinations that do not involve changes to BFEs or floodways, a LOMA or LOMR can usually be issued by FEMA within four weeks. LOMAs and LOMRs involving multiple lots or multiple buildings usually require about eight weeks for FEMA to process. LOMRs involving decreases in BFEs or floodways take approximately twelve weeks for FEMA processing. If changes in flooding conditions are extensive or if BFEs increase, a physical map revision will be required, which may take 12 months or longer.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulations require flood insurance for insurable structures located in SFHAs that carry a mortgage loan backed by a federally regulated lender or servicer. The SFHAs are the areas subject to inundation by the 1% annual chance flood, which is also referred to as the base, or 100-year, flood. If your mortgage company determines that they will require flood insurance as part of your policy, it is recommended that the following steps be taken:
Floodplain management is the operation of a community program of corrective and preventative measures for reducing flood damage. These measures take a variety of forms and generally include requirements for zoning, subdivision or building, and special-purpose floodplain ordinances. A community's agreement to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances, particularly with respect to new construction is an important element in making flood insurance available to home and businesses owners. Here are links to the City of Cedar Park's Floodplain Ordinance and Floodplain Development Permit (PDF).
For more information on FEMA, the NFIP and to acquire the various forms (LOMA, CLOMR, LOMR, Elevation Certificate, etc.) visit the NFIP page or contact the City of Cedar Park's Engineering Department.