What is a flood map?

Flood maps show a community’s risk of flooding. Specifically, flood maps show a community’s flood zone, floodplain boundaries, and base flood elevation.

Property owners, insurance agents, and lenders can use flood maps to determine flood insurance requirements and policy costs.

With Risk Rating 2.0: Equity in Action, FEMA now has the capability and tools to address rating disparities by incorporating more flood risk variables like flood frequency, multiple flood types — river overflow, storm surge, coastal erosion, and heavy rainfall — and distance to a water source, as well as property characteristics such as elevation and the cost to rebuild. 

Because your flood risk changes over time, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) work with communities across the country to identify and map flood risk on an ongoing basis.

Flood mapping data will still be necessary and essential for communities because of the important role that the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) serves for NFIP participating communities.

Additionally, Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) will continue to be used for mandatory purchase requirements, building code requirements, and floodplain management requirements, as they have always been the backbone of those programs, but will no longer be the most significant factor.

Where can I learn more?

If you’re interested in how to read a flood map, learning how often flood maps change, of looking for information on how to change your flood zone designation visit FEMA’s Map Service Center.

Get answers to your flood map questions or talk with someone from FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center.