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Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) due to escalating costs to taxpayers for flood disaster relief. The NFIP is based on the agreement that if a community practices sound floodplain management, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available to residents of that community. Flood insurance is required whenever a property is purchased with a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.
Flood Insurance Maps
As part of its administration of the NFIP, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) publishes flood hazard maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs. The purpose of a FIRM is to show the areas in a community that are subject to flooding and the risk associated with these flood hazards. One of the areas shown on the FIRM is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The SFHA is the area that has a 1-percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year; this area is also referred to by some as the 1-percent-annual chance floodplain, the base floodplain, or the 100-year floodplain. The flood hazard and risk information presented on the FIRMs is the result of studies that are performed by engineering companies, other Federal agencies, or communities, which are reviewed for compliance with FEMA guidelines and approved by FEMA. The information found on FIRMs determines whether a property requires flood insurance, and the degree to which it is at risk of flooding.
New Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)
Effective March 2, 2016, FEMA issued updated digital flood hazard maps that show the extent to which areas throughout Montgomery County are at risk for flooding. These maps mark the first update to the Flood Insurance Rate Maps since 1977 and represent a comprehensive re-examination of Montgomery County flood zones. The update is also part of a larger effort to modernize the nation's aging flood maps to reflect the most current flood risks. The new maps are the result of an extensive, multi-year study of Montgomery County's floodplains completed by Temple University and AMEC Engineering, incorporating state-of-the-art technology and risk modeling techniques. Locate the flood map for your property here.
Floodplain Determination Appeals
If your property is located in a high risk flood zone that requires flood insurance, or if the new FIRMs will change your flood hazard risk zone and you have evidence to dispute the determination, you may request a Letter of Map Change (LOMC) or Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA. In order to obtain a LOMA, the requester must complete the LOMA application. Please note that in order for a LOMA to be issued removing a structure from the special flood hazard area, Federal regulations require the lowest adjacent grade to be at or above the base floodplain elevation. There is no fee for FEMA's review of a LOMA request, but the requester must provide all of the information required to complete FEMA's review, including an elevation certificate prepared by a licensed surveyor.
If you previously submitted a LOMA that was accepted by FEMA, click here to verify that your property has been revalidated by FEMA as part of the new flood mapping process.
Benefits of Flood Insurance
Even if your home has never experienced flood damage it is a good idea to consider purchasing flood insurance. Consider the following:
Flood insurance can be purchased from any licensed property insurance agent or broker who is in good standing with the Commonwealth. Visit www.floodsmart.gov to find an agent near you.