Did you know that the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) were actually created to determine how much your premium should be? Leon County and the City of Tallahassee's first maps in the 1970's focused on the main drainage ditches and creeks where water level information was available. As our community grows, the maps are updated as we gain better information about how different storm events may affect property and as we learn about risks in previously untracked areas. A flood map isn't intended to be read like a road map, with definite limits to a floodplain. The FloodSmart website, operated by the National Flood Insurance Rate Program (NFIP), is a wonderful resource to understand the insurance program and different levels of risk. The NFIP definitions of the risk areas shown on the FIRMs are listed below:
- High-Risk Areas
(Special Flood Hazard Area or SFHA)
In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. All home and business owners in these areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to buy flood insurance. These areas are shown on the FIRMs as zones labeled with the letters A or V.
- Moderate-To-Low Risk Areas
(Non-Special Flood Hazard Area or NSFHA)
In moderate-to-low risk areas, the risk of being flooded is reduced but not completely removed. These areas submit over 20% of NFIP claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding. Flood insurance isn't federally required in moderate-to-low areas, but it is recommended for all property owners and renters. They are shown on FIRMs as zones labeled with the letters B, C or X (or a shaded X).
- Undetermined-Risk Areas
No flood-hazard analysis has been conducted in these areas, but a flood risk still exists. Flood insurance rates reflect the uncertainty of the flood risk. These areas are labeled with the letter D on the FIRMs.
One important point: the NFIP insures structures (homes or businesses) and possessions inside insured structures. Flood insurance does not cover property and belongings outside of structures, such as septic tanks or drinking wells. Leon County residents affected by flooding may or may not have water enter their homes. Large areas of the unincorporated area may be isolated by flowing orstanding water on roadways or their private property. It is important to review the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for the part of the community where you own property to determine whether there are uninsured risks.
Additional information on current mapped risks shown on the FIRM or other potential risks not shown on the FIRM can be obtained by contacting Environmental Services at Leon County's Department of Development Support and Environmental Management.