FEMA Flood Program

FEMA Flood Maps

A flood insurance rate map (FIRM) is an official map of a community within the United States that displays  the floodplains, more explicitly special  hazard areas and risk premiun zones, as delineated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).   The term is used mainly in the United States but similar maps exist in many other countries.

FIRMs display areas that fall within the 100-year flood boundary.  Areas that fall within the boundary are called special flood hazard areas (SFHAs) and they are further divided into insurance risk zones.  The term 100-year flood indicates that the area has a one-percent chance of flooding in any given year, not that a flood will occur every 100 years.

Such maps are used in town planning, in the insurance industry, and by individuals who want to avoid moving into a home at risk of flooding or to know how to protect their property.  FIRMs are used to set rates of insurance against risk of flood and whether buildings are insurable at all against flood.  It is similar to a topographic map, but is designed to show floodplains.  Towns and municipalities use FIRMs to plan zoning areas.  Most places will not allow construction in a flood way. – FEMA