Flood Plain Insurance/Map
11/10/15 90 day flood map appeal period opens November 23, 2015
On March 16, 2015, FEMA adopted new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Bucks County. These maps are used to delineate areas prone to flooding. In addition to being used for building and construction requirements, FIRMs are used by mortgage companies to determine whether or not flood insurance is required. Prior to March 16, 2015, the FEMA FIRMs in effect were adopted in 1999.
We have recently been notified that FEMA issued revised preliminary maps on March 24, 2015, which will replace the March 16, 2015 maps. These maps are currently in draft form and were prepared to incorporate additional hydraulic and hydrologic analysis performed by FEMA. The tentatively scheduled adoption date for these maps is October 20, 2016. Following the adoption of the maps, mortgage companies may require properties within the floodplain be insured for flooding. If the proposed changes affect you, we recommend getting flood insurance before the new maps go into effect.
Both the March 16 and the March 24 map revisions added and removed properties from the designated floodplain. We encourage you to look at all four maps in the links below to see if your property is affected by the changes. If you believe your flood designation will change, please contact Karyn Hyland, P.E., at 215-345-4140.
This page provides background information on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program, which are administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as well as an overview of the flood hazard assessment and mapping process underway in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. FEMA is revising the county’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and creating non- regulatory flood risk assessment products, using the latest technologies and the most current data, so that residents, homeowners, business owners, and community officials may understand their local flood risk and take action to keep people and property safe from floods.
What is the NFIP? What is Risk MAP?
Congress established the NFIP due to escalating costs to taxpayers for flood disaster relief. If a community participates in sound floodplain management, the Federal Government will make flood insurance available to residents in that community. FIRMs show the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Development may take place within the SFHA provided that it complies with local floodplain ordinances that meet NFIP criteria. Risk MAP is a FEMA program that provides communities with additional risk assessment tools and outreach support. Through collaboration with States and local entities, FEMA will deliver quality data that increase public awareness and strengthen local ability to make informed decisions about reducing risk to life and property.
What is a FIRM?
When FEMA maps flood hazards in a community or county, two products are produced – a Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report and a FIRM. An FIS contains prior flooding information, descriptions of the flooding sources, information on flood protection measures, and a description of the hydrologic and hydraulic methods used in the study. A FIRM illustrates the extent of flood hazards in a community by depicting flood risk zones and the SFHA and is used with the FIS to determine the floodplain development regulations that apply in each flood risk zone and who must buy flood insurance. FIRMs also depict Base (1% annual chance) Flood Elevations (BFEs) or flood depths, floodways, and common physical features such as roads.
How do I Find Out if a Structure or Property is Located in the SFHA?
You can locate a building or a lot by consulting the FIRM, or by contacting the floodplain administrator for your community. For help interpreting a FIRM, telephone the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) at 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627).
What if a Structure is Shown in a Different Flood Zone on the New Map?
The new map will not affect continuing insurance policies for a structure built in compliance with local floodplain management regulations and the flood map in effect at the time of construction. However, should the structure be substantially improved or substantially damaged (where damages or improvements reach 50% or more of the predamage market value) the entire structure will have to be brought into compliance with the floodplain requirements and the BFE in effect at the time any repairs take place.
Is There any Recourse if I Do Not Agree with the New Map?
Although FEMA uses the most accurate flood hazard information available, limitations of scale or topographic definition of the source maps used to prepare the FIRM may cause small areas that are at or above the BFE to be inadvertently shown within Special Flood Hazard Area boundaries. Such situations may exist in Bucks County. For these situations, FEMA established the LOMA process to remove such structures from the SFHA.
How Can I Request a LOMA?
To obtain a LOMA, the requester must complete a LOMA application form that is downloadable. For a LOMA to be issued removing a structure from the SFHA, federal regulations require that lowest adjacent grade be at or above the BFE. There is no fee for FEMA’s review of the LOMA request, but the requester of a LOMA must provide all of the information needed for a review. Elevation information certified by a licensed surveyor is often required if an elevation certificate is not available.
Will LOMAs Issued under the Old Map be Valid under the New Map?
When a new FIRM becomes effective, it automatically supersedes previously issued LOMAs, LOMRs, and other map changes that have been issued for structures and properties on the revised FIRM panels. Recognizing that some map changes may still be valid even though the flood hazard information on the FIRM has been updated, FEMA has established a process for revalidating such map changes.
What is FEMA’s Process for Revalidating Existing LOMAs and LOMRs?
To revalidate map changes, FEMA conducts a detailed comparison of the BFEs shown on FEMA’s new FIRM and the lowest adjacent grade or lowest lot elevation of previously issued map changes. Those structures or properties that are above the BFE or are located in areas of the community that are not affected by updated flood hazard information are revalidated through a formal determination letter that is issued to the community’s Chief Executive Officer when the new FIRM becomes effective. The revalidation letter is also mailed to each community’s map repository to be kept on file and is available for public reference. Map changes that have been issued for multiple lots or structures where the determination for one or more of the lots or structures have changed cannot be automatically revalidated through the administrative process described above. To request that FEMA review such map changes (i.e., those that are not included in the revalidation letter), please submit the following to FEMA:
• A letter requesting the re-issuance (provide the case number of the LOMA to be reissued); and
• A copy of the LOMA to be reissued, if available.
FEMA will review the case file and issue a new letter reflecting its new determination.
How can I purchase flood insurance?
A policy may be purchased from most licensed property insurance agents or brokers who are in good standing in the State in which the agent is licensed or through any agent representing a Write Your Own (WYO) company. Call 1-800-720-1093 or visit floodsmart.gov to find a flood insurance agent near you.
What Factors Determine Flood Insurance Premiums?
A number of factors are used to determine flood insurance premiums, including the amount of coverage purchased, the deductible, location, age, occupancy, and type of building. For newer buildings in floodplains, the elevation of the lowest adjacent grade (the lowest ground touching the structure), or lowest floor relative to the BFE will also be used to rate the policy.
For Further Information
For any questions concerning flood hazard mapping or LOMAs, please contact the FEMA Map Information eXchange’s (FMIX) toll-free information line at 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627). More information is available online. The FMIX has flood hazard mapping information and products that may be reviewed online and downloaded at http://msc.fema.gov. For map orders and questions call 1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627). For information about floodplain management, ordinances, or map adoption policies, communities can contact their State NFIP Coordinator. For questions specifically concerning insurance, please call 1-800-427-4661 or visit floodsmart.gov.
Printable copies of the maps for the Borough are here:
For digital access to print your own visit FEMA’s Map Service Center or call the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) at 877-336-2627.