I get this one often. Chris, how can I tell if my property is in a flood zone?
The short answer to this question is all property in Florida is in a flood zone. Now, is it in a flood zone that matters?
If the property is in a Special Flood Hazard Area or SFHA then pay attention. If you are obtaining a loan your lender will REQUIRE flood insurance for a property located in these zones which have an elevation of the first habitable level below a certain elevation. Also, if you build, tear down and build, or even do what is referred to as a ‘substantial renovation’ you will need to adhere to FEMA guidelines in that construction.
In any other flood zones your lender MAY require flood insurance. If you’re in a B zone then I would recommend it.
So, how do I determine what flood zone a property is in? Keep in mind that the property may be in a flood zone but what matters to the lender is the elevation of the first floor of habitable space of the building(s) on the property. First, is the property located in a municipality. CLICK HERE to find out how to determine this. Next check the town web site to see if that town participates in the National Flood Insurance Program or NFIP. If the structure is located in an SFHA but the community does NOT participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the mortgage is NOT eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Here’s a link to the Town of Juno Beach NFIP page. Juno also sent me out a Juno Beach NFIP letter about their program. If it’s in an incorporated area (Juno Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens Etc.) then look at the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for that community.
If the property is NOT in an incorporated area then you may either look at the Palm Beach County Interactive Flood Zone Determination Tool, or you may search by the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.
If the property is in a SFHA or even close then the Lender will require a Flood Certificate completed by a Licensed Land Surveyor.
These are the designations you will see for high risk property in an SFHA area:
SFHA = The land area covered by the floodwaters of the base flood is the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on NFIP maps. The SFHA is the area where the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies. The SFHA includes Zones A, AO, AH, A1-30, AE, A99, AR, AR/A1-30, AR/AE, AR/AO, AR/AH, AR/A, VO, V1-30, VE, and V. Basically, all A and V zones.
A; Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30?year mortgage. Because detailed analyses are not performed for such areas; no depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
AE; The base floodplain where base flood elevations are provided. AE Zones are now used on new format FIRMs instead of A1?A30 Zones.
A1 – 30; These are known as numbered A Zones (e.g., A7 or A14). This is the base floodplain where the FIRM shows a BFE (old format).
AH; Areas with a 1% annual chance of shallow flooding, usually in the form of a pond, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30?year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
AO; River or stream flood hazard areas, and areas with a 1% or greater chance of shallow flooding each year, usually in the form of sheet flow, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30?year mortgage. Average flood depths derived from detailed analyses are shown within these zones.
AR; Areas with a temporarily increased flood risk due to the building or restoration of a flood control system (such as a levee or a dam). Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements will apply, but rates will not exceed the rates for unnumbered A zones if the structure is built or restored in compliance with Zone AR floodplain management regulations.
A99; Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding that will be protected by a Federal flood control system where construction has reached specified legal requirements. No depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
V; Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30?year mortgage. No base flood elevations are shown within these zones.
VE, V1 ? 30; Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30?year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones.
Low risk area designations:
B and X (shaded) Area of moderate flood hazard, usually the area between the limits of the 100?year and 500?year floods. B Zones are also used to designate base floodplains of lesser hazards, such as areas protected by levees from 100?year flood, or shallow flooding areas with average depths of less than one foot or drainage areas less than 1 square mile.
C and X (unshaded); Area of minimal flood hazard, usually depicted on FIRMs as above the 500?year flood level. Zone C may have ponding and local drainage problems that don’t warrant a detailed study or designation as base floodplain. Zone X is the area determined to be outside the 500?year flood and protected by levee from 100?year flood.