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How Flood Maps Can Help You Protect Your Business

Get your commercial facilities ready for the Atlantic hurricane season by taking a look at the FEMA flood map. The maps are updated every five years, so it’s a good idea to check them frequently and ensure your zone remains the same. Knowing what flood zone your company is located in can save your business time and money in the recovery process. It will also confirm whether or not you need to update certain items, such as your insurance policy or emergency plan.

  1. Insurance coverage: Is flood insurance a part of your policy? Most policies don’t automatically include flood damages so be sure to review your policy to confirm which damages, and how much, will be covered. For those who’ve just recently been updated to a high-risk flood zone, now is a great time to add flood insurance to your policy. Speak to your broker today and be prepared.

  2. Emergency plan: Businesses in flood zones, whether high or moderate risk, need to have a clear plan of how they’ll prevent potential damages leading up to the storm, and how they’ll get their business back up and running soon after the flood. If you haven’t yet, update your emergency plan or business continuity plan based on the level of your flood zone.

To identify what zone you’re in, you’ll first need to visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center and enter your facility’s address. After you click the “Search” button, the website will automatically produce the map for you with the zones identified on the map. While a map legend is included, it does not define what each zone means. To help you understand the risk for your business, we’ve gathered the information for each zone and have included the definitions below.

FEMA has created separate categories based on the level of risk and whether or not the region is on the coast or further inland.

For non-coastal towns, the zones are as follows:

HIGH-RISK FLOOD ZONES

A - Areas with a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

AE - The base floodplain where base flood elevations are provided. AE Zones are now used on new format FIRMs instead of A1 - A30 Zones. It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

A1-30 - These are known as numbered A Zones (e.g., A7 or A14). This is the base floodplain where the FIRM shows a BFE (old format). It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

AH - Areas with a 1% annual chance of shallow flooding, usually in the form of a pond, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. Base flood evaluations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones. It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

AO - River or stream flood hazard areas, and areas with a 1% or greater chance of shallow flooding each year, usually in the form of sheet flow, with an average depth ranging from 1 to 3 feet. Average flood depths derived from detailed analyses are shown within these zones. It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

AR -Areas with a temporarily increased flood risk due to the building or restoration of a flood control system (such as a levee or a dam). Mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements will apply, but rates will not exceed the rates for unnumbered A zones if the structure is built or restored in compliance with Zone AR floodplain management regulations.

A99 - Areas with a 1% chance of flooding that will be protected by a Federal flood control system where construction has reached specified legal requirements. No depths or base flood elevations are shown within these zones. It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

LOW- OR MODERATE-RISK FLOOD ZONES

B or X (shaded) - Area of moderate flood hazard, usually the area between the limits of the 100-year and 500-year floods. B Zones are also used to designate base floodplains of lesser hazards, such as areas protected by levees from 100-year, or shallow flooding areas with average depths of less than one foot or drainage areas less than 1 square mile. Flood insurance is not required in this zone.

C or X (unshaded) - Area of minimal flood hazard, usually depicted on FIRMs as above the 500-year flood level. Zone C may have ponding and local drainage problems that don’t warrant a detailed study or designation as a base floodplain. Zone X is the area determined to be outside the 500-year flood and protected by levee from a 100-year flood. Flood insurance is not required in this zone.

HIGH-RISK ZONES FOR COASTAL AREAS

V - Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. No base flood elevations are shown within these zones. It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

VE, V1 - 30 - Coastal areas with a 1% or greater chance of flooding and an additional hazard associated with storm waves. These areas have a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage. Base flood elevations derived from detailed analyses are shown at selected intervals within these zones. It is mandatory for properties located in this zone to purchase flood insurance.

UNDETERMINED RISK AREAS

D - Areas with possible but undetermined flood hazards. No flood hazard analysis has been conducted. Flood insurance rates are commensurate with the uncertainty of the flood risk.

If we’ve learned anything in the past few years, it’s that anything can happen. That being said, It may be wise to purchase flood insurance for your commercial property even if it’s not located in a high-risk flood zone. However, we recommend speaking with your insurance provider or broker to determine the best option for your business.

Should your business experience flooding this spring or during hurricane season, contact Cotton GDS for professional water mitigation. We’re available 24/7 and provide a rapid response that keeps you on track with your business continuity plan.