Flood Zone - New vs Old

Patricia Skinner  |  10/28/2015 9:28:01 PM

The FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is used in real estate, mortgage, and flood insurance transactions and in regulating and issuing permits for building and other development. In some cases, where risk has increased since the Effective FIRM was published, the community may use a proposed (Preliminary or Future) FIRM as the best available information for permitting construction.

Many Louisiana Parishes have FIRMs being developed; these proposed FIRMS can be viewed on the LSU AgCenter FloodMaps website prior to being adopted or otherwise becoming the "Effective" FIRM. 

Follow these steps to find your flood zone on the proposed FIRM, and compare your proposed flood zone to the flood zone for your property on the Effective FIRM. 

Step What you do What you will see
1 Select your parish You will see the entire proposed FIRM for the parish overlaid on a Bing Road map. The Search Tool will be displayed on the screen. 
2 Find your property using the Search Tool. You can search for an address or for a "latitude, longitude" coordinate pair. If you do not have an address or coordinates, close the search tool and go to step 3. The system will place a pin in the map where it determines the address should be (or where the coordinates are) and will zoom to that location and produce a Point Information box.
3 Turn on the Bing Hybrid (aerial photo and road map) and locate your property. The Hybrid button is on the Layers tool. The system will display an aerial photograph of the area with roads overlaid.
4 Pan and Zoom to find the exact location you want  
5 Clear any pins you've dropped on the map while navigating. (Use the Points Tool).   
6 Click the map exactly at your point of interest (on your house, on the yard in front of the house, at the corner of your property). The system will drop a pin wherever you click the map and display a Point Information box for that point. The Point Info box provides data read from the proposed FIRM (including the flood zone), and from other sources.
7 Click on the "What Does this Mean" tab at the bottom of the Point Info box The What does this mean page opens a new tab in your browser. You will get a narrative description of the flood-related information for your point based on the proposed FIRM. The narrative also tells you whether the point is (or is not) in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA, often referred to as "the flood zone:" and tells you the insurance and building permit implications of being in that zone, if and when the proposed FIRM becomes the Effective FIRM. It tells you who your floodplain official is and gives you their phone number. You can print that page, or email it to a friend, relative, colleague or client. 
8 Return to the browser tab that has the map with your point identified.  Use the Layers tool to return to "Roads", uncheck the Proposed FIRM, and check the Effective FIRM.  Pull the density slider for the Effective FIRM all the way to the right and zoom out a little so you can see the labels printed on the paper map. Your point should then be visible in the screen that shows the Effective FIRM. The Effective FIRM is a scan of a paper map. Since it is not digital we cannot read it electronically. The A and V flood zones (which are the ones in the SFHA) are shaded gray. (Remember, these zones on the digital, proposed FIRM are Pink)
9 Turn the Proposed FIRM layer back on (check the box in the Layer's tool). The proposed FIRM will overlay on the Effective FIRM. Where you see Pink with not gray behind it, the area is being newly mapped into the SFHA.  Where you see gray with no pick over it, the area is being mapped OUT of the SFHA. The image at the top of this page illustrates two points "moving" in these directions.
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