As a public service, Howard County Government provides residents with floodplain information upon request based on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Visit the County’s Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map website to view mapping and information on:
FEMA’s 2013 Flood Insurance Study (FIS) for the FIRMs can be found here: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3.
The old, superceded version of the FIS, along with paper FIRMs are available for viewing at the Stormwater Management Office located at 9801 Broken Land Parkway, Columbia, MD 21046.
Current Elevation Certificates in the County can be found here.
If a building is within a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a lender is required by law to require a loan recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building. Therefore, if your building is in a SFHA and you have a mortgage loan from a federally related financial assistance program or from a lender that is regulated, supervised, or insured by federal agencies, you would be required to purchase flood insurance. SFHAs are considered to be high risk Flood Zones A and AE. Federal law does not require flood insurance purchases in moderate risk Shaded Zone X or low risk Flood Zone X areas, however, lenders and/or insurance agents could still require you to purchase flood insurance based on their own risk assessment and judgment. If your building or property is outside of FEMA’s SFHA or outside of the County-regulated 100-year floodplain, you still have the option to purchase flood insurance if you feel it is warranted. If you have additional questions related to flood insurance, contact your homeowner’s insurance agent or consult the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) at www.floodsmart.gov or 1-888-379-9531.
Your property may be located within the County-regulated 100-year floodplain delineated for smaller drainage areas than those delineated by FEMA for its SFHA. If this is the case, County development restrictions would apply to your property. For additional information on County development regulations related to the 100‑year floodplain please contact the Department of Planning and Zoning at 410-313-2350.
In November 2013, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) made effective new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Howard County, which replaced the 1986 FIRMs. FIRMs are used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to determine if flood insurance is mandatory on any given property and now the 2013 FIRMs more accurately represent flooding risks change over time due to changes in land use, weather events and other factors. The 2013 FIRMs were then digitized and are referred to as Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM). Note that the 2013 FIRM and DFIRM have the same information; the DFIRM is simply the 2013 FIRM in digital format.
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
2) Some homes will be removed from the mapped floodplain (SFHA)
3) Some homes will remain in the mapped floodplain (SFHA)
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.
County staff is available to assist residents one-on-one with floodplain and drainage questions through the Bureau of Environmental Services, 9801 Broken Land Parkway, Columbia, MD 21046. Contact Environmental Services at DoIFlood@HowardCountyMD.gov or call 410-313-6444 during normal business hours.