Consumer Alert: Appealing a Flood Plain Map
Commissioner Miller is alerting property owners who are in
flood zones on maps drawn by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
that they can appeal the decision to place a property in a flood zone, known
officially as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
Over the past several years, FEMA has re-mapped most of the
country, and using 100-year flood projections, many properties not previously
included in Special Flood Hazard Areas are now in such zones. If a home is in an SFHA and has a mortgage
backed by the federal government, which many are, the homeowner must get flood
To appeal a home’s placement in an SFHA, the homeowner must
show the lowest adjacent grade (the lowest ground touching the structure) is at
or above the Base Flood Elevation. The
Base Flood Elevation is the computed elevation to which floodwater is
anticipated to rise during the base flood used in determining whether the land
is in a Special Flood Hazard Area. It is
the homeowner’s responsibility to provide this information in a letter to
FEMA. For this type of appeal, called a
Letter of Map Amendment, there is no charge to the homeowner.
More information on how to appeal a flood zone designation,
get a flood map, and find answers to other questions, homeowners can go to https://www.fema.gov/information-homeowners. Homeowners can also call 1-877-FEMA-MAP
(1-877-336-2627), to get information on appealing a flood zone designation.
Homeowners who need or want flood insurance can get
information on this coverage at a new, one-stop shop webpage created by the
Pennsylvania Insurance Department, at www.insurance.pa.gov, then click on the “Flood” icon under
Top Pages. This flood insurance page
includes information on private insurance options for homeowners, as well as
information on the federal government run National Flood Insurance Program
In many cases, private flood insurance may be less expensive
than the NFIP product. However, private
insurers may not cover higher risk properties.
Also, homeowners who have NFIP insurance and switch to a private
insurer, then later go back to NFIP, will likely not be eligible for any
subsidies from NFIP. And, currently,
only homes insured through NFIP are eligible for federal grants to help cover
the cost of flood mitigation work, such as raising a home to lessen the chances
of flooding in the future.