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    Flood Information Back To F.A.Q. Page

    What is a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)?

    In support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has undertaken a massive effort of flood hazard identification and mapping to produce Flood Hazard Boundary Maps, Flood Insurance Rate Maps, and Flood Boundary and Floodway Maps. Several areas of flood hazards are commonly identified on these maps. One of these areas is the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), which is defined as an area of land that would be inundated by a flood having a 1% chance of occurring in any given year (previously referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood). The 1% annual chance standard was chosen after considering various alternatives. The standard constitutes a reasonable compromise between the need for building restrictions to minimize potential loss of life and property and the economic benefits to be derived from floodplain development. Development may take place within the SFHA, provided that development complies with local floodplain management ordinances, which must meet the minimum Federal requirements. Flood insurance is required for insurable structures within the SFHA to protect federally funded or federally backed investments and assistance used for acquisition and/or construction purposes within communities participating in the NFIP.

    What does floodplain have to do with my mortgage?

    If a lending institution is federally regulated or making federally-backed loans, it must review the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) maps to determine if the building is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The SFHA is the area that is expected to be inundated by a 1% annual chance of flooding. If the bank makes such a determination, it must require the borrower to purchase flood insurance.

    I have located my property on NFIP maps and believe it is outside the SFHA zone; what do I do to resolve this issue?

    If you disagree with the lending institution's determination, you may request FEMA to Review the Lender's Determination. FEMA will then review the information that the lending institution used, and issue a letter that states whether they agree with the determination. Your request must be postmarked no later than 45 days after the lending institution notifies you of the flood insurance requirement and the submittal must be complete. FEMA will then review the information that the lending institution used, and issue a letter that states whether they agree with the determination. FEMA's response to this request is called a Letter of Determination Review (LODR), and offer two basic dispositions: (1) the lender's determination stands or (2) it is overturned. FEMA's determination is based on the technical data submitted. If the lender's evidence is inconclusive or the request is incomplete FEMA can disagree with the lender's determination. FEMA's response does not amend or revise the NFIP map, it only states that FEMA agrees or disagrees with your lender's determination. Occasionally a lending institution may require insurance if it determines that a part of your lot is in the SFHA. The NFIP does not insure land. However, even if you submit evidence that your building is out of the floodplain, the bank may still decide to require insurance on your building.

    I received a letter from my mortgage company stating that my home is in a flood area and I must purchase flood insurance; why have I received this letter?

    The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) maps are periodically updated applying better technology and information. Some flood zones were slightly revised in the newest FEMA maps effective September 2007. In some instances, however, the flood zones were not changed rather improved map quality allowed existing homes in these areas to be newly identified. Visit the FEMA Map Service Center to view or purchase these maps and other resources. These maps are also available in the Forsyth County Department of Engineering.

    I do not believe that my property is subject to flooding based on its elevation; what do I do to resolve this issue?

    Most bank determinations are base on whether the home is in or out of a Special Flood Hazard Zone as indicated by the latest FEMA maps and do not involve the vertical elevation of the structure. If you disagree with the lending institution's determination, depending on the specific circumstances, you may apply for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA), or a Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F). To be removed the floodplain shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map, a structure must be on land that is not subject to flooding by the 1% annual chance flood. Remember, more severe floods can and do happen, so even if your home is found to be on high ground, it may still be damaged by an extreme flood event. If your lot or building site is on natural ground that is higher than the Base Flood Elevation shown on the FIRM, then you may request a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). To support your request, you will have to get a surveyor to determine the elevation of the ground next to your building and complete an Elevation Certificate. If the ground is higher than the Base Flood Elevation, then FEMA will issue a LOMA. With a LOMA, your lender may choose to not require flood insurance. If your home was built on fill that was placed after the FIRM was prepared, you may request a Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill (LOMR-F). As with a LOMA, you will need to get an Elevation Certificate completed by a land surveyor. If the filled ground is higher than the Base Flood Elevation, and if you do not have a basement, then FEMA may issue a LOMR-F, and your lender may choose to not require flood insurance. This request must be submitted within 45 days of the date your lender informs you that your property is in a SFHA, the area subject to inundation by the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood. The application form and instructions for submitting LOMAs and LOMR-Fs can be found on the FEMA Tutorial Series. Prior to submitting this application to FEMA it must first be submitted to the Forsyth County Department of Engineering for a Community Acknowledgement Form to be signed. Although preparing and submitting this request is ultimately the homeowner’s responsibility, general guidance is available from the Department of Engineering.

    What is a Base Flood Elevation?

    A Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is the height of the base flood, usually in feet, in relation to the National Geodetic Vertical Datum of 1929, the North American Vertical Datum of 1988, or other datum referenced in the Flood Insurance Study report, or average depth of the base flood, usually in feet, above the ground surface.

    How can I obtain an Elevation Certificate?

    Elevation Certificates must be prepared and certified by a land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is licensed by the state of Georgia to certify elevation information. Elevations must be certified by a licensed engineer or surveyor if the elevation certificate is intended to support an application for a Letter of Map Amendment or a Letter of Map Revision based on Fill. If your home was built recently and a Base Flood Elevation Certificate was provided to the Department of Planning and Development, then this information may be available in the building permit file.

    Can I get information directly from FEMA?

    The FEMA Web site includes an "Information For Homeowners" Web page which details information directly relating to home ownership, including obtaining assistance from a map specialist, map change processes for homeowners, how to obtain and view flood maps, and even their own list of Frequently Asked Questions.

    Back To F.A.Q. Page
    110 East Main Street, Suite 100
    Cumming, GA
    FORSYTH COUNTY GOVERNMENTPhone:  (770) 781-2115
    Fax:  (770) 781-2197