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How to Know if Your Property is in a Flood Zone

With all of the news about the biblical, as some are calling it, floods in Colorado, many people are wondering how to find out if a property is in a flood zone, or a special flood hazard area.

The Engineers here at Shaw Engineering frequently work with water and water systems so we thought, what better idea than to share our knowledge with the world?

Where to get the information:

The easiest way to learn about your property as it relates to a flood zone is to visit the FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website. Once there you can view the FIRMette, or Flood Insurance Rate Map, that you create yourself that is specific to your area or region.

What information is provided on the maps:

FIRMettes are very useful in showing areas that are subject to flooding. They also provide information about special flood hazard areas (SFHA), magnitude of the flood hazard in a specific area, flood insurance risk zones and areas where flood insurance is not available.

According to FEMA, the information provided in these maps is based on historic, meteorological, hydrologic and hydraulic data, as well as open-space condition, flood-control works, and development. So you can be sure the information being provided is accurate and up-to-date.

Parts of the map used to determine if your property is in a special flood hazard area:

The index serves as a guide to map sheets found on a flood map. Geographic coverage of the map may be larger than you need, so it is important to refer to the panels, or sections that the map is divided into, to find the right area.

Flood maps for a specific community may include more than one individual map. Because of this, each individual map is referred to as a panel. To determine which panel should be used to find the correct information, refer to the index.

The title block contains the community name, the panel or page number, the date and other necessary identifying information.

The legend provides information for identifying the risk zones, floodways and symbols on the map.

The body of the map is the main part, displaying the contents.   

What to do if your property is in a special flood hazard area:

If your property or building is in or partially in a special flood hazard area, it may require an elevation survey of the property or building to determine whether or not flood insurance is necessary.

If you have trouble interpreting the FIRMette, or would like more information, contact your local governing agency for information specific to your area.