An historical archive of the year of the great flood.

As Jamestown moves into the post-Jamestown Flood recovery process we are hearing more and more about floodplains, FIRMs, and NIFP. Coleen Williams has kindly provided information about these terms and why they matter.

Regulated floodplains are illustrated on inundation maps called Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). It is the official map of a community on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delineated both the special flood hazard areas and the risk premium zones applicable to the community. Private citizens and insurance agents use FIRM‘s to determine whether or not specific properties are located within flood hazard areas. Community officials use FIRM‘s to administer floodplain management regulations and to mitigate flood damage. Lending institutions and federal agencies use FIRM‘s to locate properties and buildings in relation to mapped flood hazards, and to determine whether flood insurance is required when making loans or providing grants following a disaster for the purchase or construction of a building.

The 100-year flood, which is the minimum standard used by most federal and state agencies, is used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as the standard for floodplain management and to determine the need for flood insurance. Participation in the NFIP requires adoption of a local floodplain management ordinance and its enforcement within a mapped Special Flood Hazard Area.

A jurisdiction‘s eligibility to participate is premised on their adoption and enforcement of state and community floodplain management regulations intended to prevent unsafe development in the floodplain, thereby reducing future flood damages. Thus, participation in the NFIP is based on an agreement between communities and the federal government. If a community adopts and enforces a floodplain management ordinance to reduce future flood risk to new construction in floodplains, the federal government will make flood insurance available within the community as a financial protection against flood losses.


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