Ron Hutchins
Harpswell Realty Group, LLC.

Flood Zones

Ron Hutchins has a great deal of knowledge regarding flood zones, how to determine if a home is in a flood zone and where to go for insurance quotes or more information regarding flood zones. The information he has provided below is a great summary about the history and other information to consider when searching for a home along the coast of Maine.

The following Information is provided by: Nadeau Land Surveys | 918 Brighton Avenue | Portland ME | 04102 | (207) 878-7870

Learning how FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are created, and what purpose they are intended to serve, is a valuable component of understanding risk and preparing for a flood. A flood map depicts an area prone to having a higher risk of flooding based on proximity to water bodies, but was never intended to define the landward extent of any type or size of a flooding event. In other words, FEMA’s flood maps do not identify actual risk, or areas which are safe from flooding.

The primary purpose of the FIRMs is to provide a mortgage lender holding a federally-backed or insured loan in excess of $5000 with a resource to evaluate flood risk on the collateral of the loan. FIRMs also help communities implement higher regulation within Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), designated as Zone A or V on the map. Other peripheral benefits of a flood map include long term community planning, mitigation strategies, and the creation of preferred evacuation routes.

It is also important to understand that not all flood maps are created equal. Initial flood maps were based on United States Geological Survey (USGS) maps which featured topographic contour intervals ranging from 10’ to an excess of 100’. As a general rule, the larger the contour interval, the less topographically accurate the flood map. Many modernized flood maps have been created using smaller contour intervals (1’, 2’, or 5’) due to improved data collection as a result of advances in technology, but remember even more accurate engineer-computed lines cannot define actual risk.

Depending on location and the availability of funding to perform flood studies, the size and shape of a SFHA may be the result of:

a) A new flood study generated from more accurate data which evaluates physical ground changes and development in a particular area resulting in a revised Base Flood Elevation (BFE), and a new shape of the SFHA.
b) The reshaping of a SFHA utilizing more accurate data, but without a new flood study. This effort does not evaluate physical changes and development in a particular area, but may more accurately locate an existing BFE on the surface of the earth.
c) A transfer of USGS data to a new map format. This effort does not utilize more accurate data, or evaluate physical changes and development in a particular area.

Identifying which type of flood map exists in your area requires a certain level of mapping experience and knowledge, so I recommend implementing sound mitigation strategies and decisions that blanket all types of flood risk.

We must accept that we are in a constantly changing world and prepare by learning the strengths and weaknesses of the resources available, modifying our perceptions and behaviors accordingly. A flood map can be your friend, but as with an actual friend, forming a strong relationship is not possible without understanding each other’s personal attributes and weaknesses.

To learn more contact Jim Nadeau,  Nadeau Land Surveys | 918 Brighton Avenue | Portland ME | 04102 | (207) 878-7870 or copy and paste the web address below into your browser's search bar below to visit their website...