Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Am I in a Flood Hazard Area?

Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) as Zone A, AE, AH, AO or A 1- 30.   FIRM maps can be viewed at the municipal office but they can also be found online at the FEMA Map Service Center

Most Vermont communities have FIRMs and some communities have an officially-digital version called the Digital FIRM or DFIRM.  DFIRMs are available in Chittenden, Rutland, Washington, Windham, and Windsor Counties and for several towns (Bradford, Hardwick, Jay, Montgomery, Newbury, Wolcott, and Stowe).

DFIRMs can be viewed at:

and using the Google Earth kmz file available at the FEMA Map Service Center).

Preliminary DFIRM data is now available for Bennington County (5/18/12) and the Town of Richmond (9/11/13).   
Preliminary DFIRM data can be viewed at the municipal office or found online at the Vermont Natural Resources Atlas

To view the Preliminary DFIRM data in the Atlas
1.      Use Quick Tools to search for a street address
2.      Find the best result in the list and click on it, the choose Zoom to Feature
3.      Click on Map Layers (shown as a stack of green, red and gray layers at the bottom of the screen).
4.      Click on the "+" sign next to the Watershed Protection  Layers
5.      Click on the empty box next to Special Flood Hazard Areas (Preliminary DFIRM)  Layer
6.      Click on the gray box beside that layer to reveal the Legend

To print or save a map:
1.      Click on the Map Tools icon (wrench and screwdriver) in upper right corner of screen.
2.      Click on Print Map (it will automatically incorporate a legend and scale bar).  You can choose to “print” (save) a pdf or jpg version and then email or print that image.

Non-DFIRM Maps (FIRMs and FHBMs)
Where the community does not have an official DFIRM you can view the current data online and make a FIRMette (a small version of the official data).  FIRM maps do not have an aerial image in the background so you must include features such as intersections from which to measure and plot the location of your building.

To find a FIRM use the Product Catalog.   Then click on Get Current FEMA Issued Flood Maps.
In the list of maps the map ending in INDO (eg 500001IND0 ) is the index or map of map panels.   Once you have your bearings on the map panel you can open the correct panel and Make a FIRMette, and save it as a pdf or tif.

Need Map Help?
FEMA Map Specialist 1-877-FEMA-MAP,

Structures in the Special Flood Hazard Area (Zone A, AE, A1-30, AO, AH) have more than a 1 in 4 chance of being exposed to a flood during a 30 year mortgage.  

FEMA's Floodsmart website has information about flood insurance and a tool to estimate flood damage for a structure built on a slab.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Planning for Flood Resilience!

With Act 16 in 2013 Vermont has established flood resilience goals for municipal, regional and state plans. Beginning July 2014 new municipal and regional plans must include a flood resilience element that addresses the goals identified in Chapter 117 §4302.


(14) To encourage flood resilient communities.
(A) New development in identified flood hazard, fluvial erosion, and river corridor protection areas should be avoided. If new development is to be built in such areas, it should not exacerbate flooding and fluvial erosion.
(B) The protection and restoration of floodplains and upland forested areas that attenuate and moderate flooding and fluvial erosion should be encouraged.
(C) Flood emergency preparedness and response planning should be encouraged

A simple SharePoint website has been pulled together to support planners working on flood resilience.   The site has links to data, suggestions, supportive contacts and early drafts.

Please take a look and spread the word !

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Property-Owner's Guide to Rebuilding for Flood Resilience workshop

Here is an opportunity that we wanted to pass along.  It is a evening and following full day event in November that is targeted to individual property owners who are looking to get ideas and discuss flood resistant reconstruction techniques.  The intent of this workshop is to incorporate many different topics that can help a homeowner rebuilding after a flood, such as energy efficiency, historic preservation, stormwater management and landscape design.  Registration and additional information can be found at the website listed at the bottom of the post.

DON'T MISS the Property-owners' Guide to Rebuilding for Flood Resilience: a DESIGN CHARETTE to Generate Ideas for Adapting Flood Resistant Reconstruction Techniques to Our Climate and Culture

Integrating Practical Ideas for Flood Hazard Mitigation with Landscape Design, Energy Efficiency, Stormwater Management and Historic Preservation


FRIDAY NOVEMBER 8TH from 8:30AM – 3:00PM, luncheon provided