FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM) Update
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been working with the Maryland Department of the Environment to update FEMA’s existing Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Howard County. FIRMs are used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to determine if flood insurance is mandatory on any given property.
The existing Howard County FIRMs were prepared in 1986 with partial updates completed since then. The proposed Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM) have been prepared because flooding risks change over time with changes in land use, weather events and other factors, as well as, improved techniques for determining flood prone areas and presenting the flood plain in an easier to use digital format. FEMA is proposing that the 1986 FIRMs be replaced in their entirety with the new DFIRMs.
Notice of the proposed Howard County DFIRMs was published in the Federal Register on March 28, 2012. This notice is available here
How will these changes affect me?
As a result of changes in the DFIRM:
1) Some homes will be included in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), i.e., the FEMA regulated 100-year flood plain for the first time
- If your home is in the floodplain (SFHA zones “A” or “AE”) based on the new maps and you have a mortgage from a federally-regulated lender you will, most likely, be required to carry flood insurance after the new maps go into effect.
2) Some homes will be removed from the mapped floodplain (SFHA)
- If your home is currently in the FEMA floodplain but, under the new DFIRM, will be taken out of the floodplain, flood insurance will no longer be required by FEMA.
- However, if another part of your property other than your home remains in the floodplain, your mortgage holder may still elect to require you to carry flood insurance.
- You may, at your own discretion, maintain flood insurance, but at the lower rates offered to homes outside the SFHA.
3) Some homes will remain in the mapped floodplain (SFHA)
- If your home is currently in the flood plain, is also shown on the new map or DFIRM as still in the floodplain (SFHA, zone “A” or “AE”), and has a mortgage from a federally-regulated lender, then by federal law your lender must require you to carry flood insurance.
Regardless of the FEMA flood designation for your home, if you feel your home is at risk of flooding, you may still purchase flood insurance.
To help determine if your home is in the SFHA, click here and enter your address at the top of the page.
Where do I go for more information?
See the factsheet prepared by FEMA on Howard County’s proposed DFIRM.
Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federally underwritten program , and can be purchased through licensed insurance agents. For more information on flood insurance, visit the NFIP website, www.floodsmart.gov.
County staff is also available to assist residents one-on-one through the Bureau of Environmental Services, 6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Suite 514, Columbia, MD 21046. Contact Environmental Services at DoIFlood@HowardCountyMD.gov or call 410-313-6444 during normal business hours.