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FLOODPLAIN SOURCES INCLUDED ON THE INDIANA FLOODPLAIN INFORMATION PORTAL
Data sources provided in INFIP and their use are described below.
Effective Special Flood Hazard Area
The data layer "Effective Special Flood Hazard Area" ("Effective"), is the National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) as published by FEMA. The NFHL data is a digital representation of the former paper Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for counties that have completed the Map Modernization Initiative. The data is derived from official FEMA digital products in the form of Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs) and Letters of Map Revision, and represents official FEMA designations of the Special Flood Hazard Areas. This data can be used for official National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) purposes in accordance with the FEMA Mitigation Directorate Policy document tiled "Use of Digital Flood Hazard Data" dated November 29, 2007.
For the non-modernized counties, the Effective is enhanced by the addition of the floodplain data from digitized paper copies of the FIRMs and the information should be considered advisory only. For these non-modernized counties, the paper maps are the official FEMA documents for regulatory and insurance purposes. Once the NFHL is official, the Effective is updated with the newly published information.
For the status of counties published by FEMA please see http://www.floodmaps.fema.gov/NFHL/status.shtml.
Preliminary Special Flood Hazard Area
The data layer "Preliminary Special Flood Hazard Area" ("Preliminary") is a proposed digital product (DFIRM) presented by FEMA for acceptance and approval by the county as an official DFIRM for that particular county. This Preliminary flood hazard information is for outreach, advisory and review purposes only, and is subject to revision. It should not be used for regulation, enforcement, insurance rating purposes, or for mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements.
Best Available Flood Hazard Area
The data layer "Best Available Flood Hazard Area" ("Best Available") is the Effective with additional studies that have been reviewed and approved by the Division of Water. While this data has not yet been submitted to FEMA for inclusion in the FIRMs or NFHL (DFIRMs), this data can be used for general planning, construction, and development purposes. However, Best Available cannot be used for flood insurance determinations. The majority of local jurisdictions have options for using best available data; however typically only the FEMA floodplain limits have been adopted into the local floodplain ordinance.
The floodplain data shown in the Best Available layer is generally more recent than the official FEMA NHFL data in the Effective layer. However, while the Best Available layer has been approved by the Division of Water, this data not gone through the due process standards FEMA requires for publication in the NFHL.
Where a floodway analysis has been completed, an "Approximate Floodway" is included in the Best Available layer. These floodways are based on non-detailed floodplain modeling (i. e. no bridges), but otherwise meet the guidelines for development of floodways in Indiana. These floodways are acceptable for general use in determining jurisdiction for the Indiana Flood Control Act, but should be used with caution. These floodways do not meet the requirements for publication in the FIRMs or NFHL.
Which layer should I use?
The following table presents a general guide to use of the effective and best available layers within INFIP for common situations. This is not intended to be a definitive guide, as every situation is unique and may require additional consideration of the appropriate information to use.
|Layers||Flood Insurance Determinations||Letters of Map Revision Zones AE, AH or AO||Letters of Map Revision Zones Zone A||DNR permitting for the Indiana Flood Control Act||Local jurisdiction floodplain construction permitting determining building elevations||General planning purposes|
Approximate Flooding Elevations
Along many waterways, an Approximate Flooding Elevation is provided for selected Points of Interest. These elevations are based on Flood Elevation Points (FEPs), which are points placed on the centerline of the stream at 50 feet intervals or within lake boundaries. The FEPs are either determined from Base Flood Elevation information from FEMA's Flood Insurance Studies, or from studies done by or for the Division of Water.
Please note that these elevations are provided for general information purposes only. If a Base Flood Elevation is needed for official flood insurance or construction purposes, it should come from a FEMA Flood Insurance Study or from a DNR determination. If a Flood Insurance Study exists for your site, the "Source" in the Point of Interest information will include "Zone AE". If the Source does not state Zone AE, a DNR determination would be needed and can be requested through the eFARA Wizard.
There may be discrepancies with the elevations shown in INFIP and the actual elevation at a Point of Interest due to the determination methodology or a lag time in data updates (such as the issuance of Letter of Map Revision or approval of other studies). Further information about methodology discrepancies can be found on the Help tab. If other elevation discrepancies are found, please contact our office for an official determination through the eFARA Wizard.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What does INFIP do?
- Why should I find out what the new flood risk is for my property?
- History of floodplain laws in Indiana
- How can floodplain information help you?
- How do I get the floodplain information for a residence or tract of land?
- What is a base flood event?
- What is a base flood elevation?
- What is a floodplain?
- What is the floodway?
- What is the fringe?
- How do I know if my house or property is in a floodplain or floodway?
- What does it mean to me if my house or my property is in the floodplain?
- Why would I want to buy flood insurance on my house or other structures on my property?
- What factors determine flood insurance premiums?
- Can I get the flood insurance requirement waived for my property?
What does INFIP do?back to top
The Indiana Floodplain Information Portal, INFIP, is a mapping application that provides floodplain information for waterways to help citizens determine flood risk in an effort to minimize flood damage. INFIP utilizes FEMA published floodplain data and floodplain data from various, IDNR approved resources in order to provide the most available, comprehensive coverage of floodplain information for the State of Indiana.
The main functions of INFIP enables you to:
- select a Point of Interest (i.e. residence or tract of land) to view floodplain mapping and the Base Flood Elevations (BFE)
- print a floodplain map for a Point of Interest
- submit a request for a Floodplain Analysis / Regulatory Assessment (FARA) from the Division of Water using the eFARA (electronic Floodplain Analysis / Regulatory Assessment) Wizard
- view general information and Frequency Asked Questions (FAQ) concerning floodplains, flood risk, flood insurance, and state floodway construction permitting
- obtain contact information to your local floodplain agency
- link to FEMA flood insurance studies
If a FEMA flood insurance study (FIS) is published for your site, the "Source" in the Point of Interest information will include "Zone AE". When FEMA flood insurance studies (FIS) are not published, a Floodplain Analysis / Regulatory Assessment (FARA), issued by the Department of Natural Resources will be required for the following circumstances:
- for obtaining a local building permit for construction in and around a floodplain
- for proposed construction of a residential or non-residential building in the floodplain
- as part of a FEMA Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) application
- for flood insurance determination
Upon request The Division of Water provides Floodplain Analysis / Regulatory Assessment (FARA) free of charge.
The eFARA Wizard saves you time and money by eliminating the need for you to complete a paper request that must be mailed to the Division of Water in Indianapolis. By using the eFARA Wizard, your information is directly logged in the Division of Water's database. In addition, the eFARA Wizard allows you to attach copies of documents such as legal descriptions, drawings, etc. that are helpful in completing the floodplain analysis more quickly.
When floodplain data is available on INFIP at your point of interest, the Division can issue you a response more quickly. If floodplain data is not available on INFIP at your Point of Interest, the Division's response time will depend on the data resources available in our office.
Why should I find out what the new flood risk is for my property?back to top
Knowing your flood risk is the first step to flood protection. Flooding is the most frequent and costly disaster in Indiana. The risk for flooding changes over time due to erosion, land use, weather events, and other factors. The likelihood of flooding has changed along with these factors. The risk for flooding can vary within the same neighborhood and even property to property. Flooding occurs not only in high-risk areas, but also in low to moderate-risk areas. More than 25% of properties flooded nationwide were in areas designated as having a low or moderate flood risk. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires the purchase of flood insurance on buildings with a federally backed mortgage that are located in the high-risk area (Special Flood Hazard Area/Zone A).
History of floodplain laws in Indianaback to top
After several historic floods in the early 1900's that resulted in millions of dollars in flood damage, Indiana leaders adopted legislation to minimize future flood losses for Indiana citizens. From that legislative initiative, a floodplain management law was enacted in 1945. The Division of Water has been charged with administrating the floodplain management law. In doing so, the Division provides technical, engineering, and educational support for floodplain management in the state.
The Division is also responsible for regulating various construction activities within, over and/or under the State's waterways through a number of regulatory programs. The Flood Control Act (IC 14-28-1) regulates various development activities (e.g. structures, obstructions, deposits, and/or excavations) within the floodway of any State waterway by requiring DNR approval prior to the beginning of the project. DNR authority under the Flood Control Act is further defined in 312 IAC 10: Floodplain Management.
How can floodplain information help you?back to top
Floodplain information can help a property owner determine their risk of flooding on their property, to help decide if flood insurance is needed for insure their residence against floodwater damage, provide necessary information to the property owner for filing a waiver on flood insurance to FEMA, or inform property owners about local and state floodplain regulations.
Owning property that is located in a floodplain can cost you more each year than owning property that is not in a floodplain. These costs could include the cost of flood insurance premiums, the cost to apply for construction permits, or the cost for repairs to your home and personal property when you have flooding. Here are some examples of how floodplain information can help you make wise decisions for property that are located in floodplains.
- If you are thinking of buying a house, floodplain information can tell you if the house is in a flood zone. Buying a house in the floodplain may cost you more money each year in insurance premiums to pay for flood insurance and your risk of being flooded is higher.
- If you need to get a loan from a mortgage company to purchase a house, floodplain information can tell you if you will be required to get flood insurance coverage on the house.
- If you wanting to get out of paying flood insurance on a house, floodplain information is required to be submitted with the application that is mailed to FEMA for a Letter of Map Amendment.
- If you want to build a non-residential building, floodplain information can tell you how high you may have to elevate the building in order to get the appropriate local and/or state permits.
- If you are thinking of buying land to build on, floodplain information can tell you if the property is in the flood zone. Before making the decision to purchase a piece of property in the flood zone, be sure to consider that building in a floodplain may require you to get local and/or state permits. Obtaining the appropriate local and state permits can be a very lengthy and costly process. In addition, be aware that state law prohibits the construction of new homes in the floodway and requires that any construction activity in the floodway will require a permit from the DNR, Division of Water. An application with the Division of Water for a construction in a floodway permit can take 2 to 5 months for the review. See What is a floodway? below.
How do I get floodplain information for a residence or tract of land?back to top
By using INFIP and the eFARA Wizard, you can request floodplain information, free of charge, from the IDNR, Division of Water. If floodplain information is available on INFIP at your site, the Division can issue a written response for your Point of Interest more quickly than if no floodplain information is available.
What is a base flood event?back to top
A base flood event is referring to flood events that are of historic nature. The likelihood of the reoccurrence of historic flood events such as a base flood event is statistically calculated. Therefore one can predict that a base flood event has a 1% chance in any year that floodwaters would reach the Base Flood Elevation for that specific location.
What is a base flood elevation?back to top
The Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is the elevation that the floodwaters reach during the 1% annual chance flood event, also called the Base Flood. The Base Flood is the flood that has a one percent (1%) chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The BFE is determined by identifying the ground elevation that the floodwaters rise to at a given point during a Base Flood event. In addition, by analyzing various variables using a complex hydrological computer model, the BFE can be predicted. Once a BFE has been established, flood "plains" or more commonly call flood "zones" can be mapped in relation to the earth's surface. The BFE can also be referred to as the 1% annual chance flood elevation, Regulatory Flood Elevation (RFE), or the 100-year frequency flood elevation (100-year flood).
Cross Section lines that display in Zone AE denotes that the water surface elevation will be the same all along the line.
Base Flood Elevations (BFE) are used by federal, state, and local agencies to regulate areas subject to flooding.
What is a floodplain?back to top
The floodplain is the entire surface of land and channel that floodwaters inundate during a base flood event. Floodplains are made up of the floodway and the flood fringe.
What is the floodway?back to top
The floodway is the channel and the land surface where the floodwaters are rapidly flowing during a base flood event. The floodway limits along a waterway cannot be determined by just looking at a floodplain. The floodway limit of a waterway is determined through complex hydrological computer modeling using a combination of various hydrology data such as rainfall amounts, historical flood events, topography, surface conditions, and soil saturation rates. Many floodways have been determined and identified on FEMA flood maps.
The DNR Division of Water regulates construction activity in the floodways through a construction permit application process. Construction that proposes development, placing fill, or excavating materials in the floodway requires prior written approval before initiating construction. Typical examples of floodway projects subject to DNR review and approval are placing fill, development, excavations, dredging, channel work, bank stabilization, bridges, stream crossings, utility line placement/repair, and residential and non-residential buildings.
What is the fringe?back to top
The fringe is the remaining portion of a floodplain that is outside the floodway. The fringe is the land surface where floodwaters spill out onto and inundate during a base flood event. The fringe areas during a base flood event are not typically floodwaters that are rapidly flowing but rather floodwaters that pool and only begin to recede as the floodway begins to lower.
How do I know if my house or property is in a floodplain or floodway?back to top
All waterways have a floodplain and a floodway even though some are not identified on flood maps. Some waterways have a wide floodplain and floodway while others waterways may have a narrow floodplain and floodway. Many floodplains and floodways have been identified and are shown as Zone A on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Insurance Study (FIS). If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the local planning or zoning official maintains current copies of flood maps for your area. For floodplains and floodways that have not been mapped, the IDNR, Division of Water can perform a site-specific floodplain analysis. To request a site-specific floodplain analysis, a request can be made requested using INFIP and the eFARA wizard.
What does it mean to me if my house or my property is in the floodplain?back to top
If your residence or other buildings on your property is in the floodplain, those structures are at risk of being flooded especially during a base flood event. The degree of flood damage can vary greatly depending on the ground elevation that the buildings are built on in comparison to the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
For example, if the Base Flood Elevation is 975.2 feet, NVGD (National Vertical Geodetic Datum), at your site; and, your house is built on a ground elevation of 970.2 feet, NGVD, you can expect about 5 feet of floodwaters in your residence during a base flood event.
Why would I want to buy flood insurance on my house or other structures on my property?back to top
If your house or other structures on your property is located in a floodplain, flood insurance can pay you for your losses due to floodwaters. Regular house or property insurance will not cover damages from floodwaters. Only flood insurance will reimburse you for damages caused by floodwater.
If you live within a community that participates in the federal National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), the mortgage company that you borrow money from to purchase your house is mandated by federal law to require you to obtain flood insurance as a condition the mortgage loan if you are in an identified floodplain.
In addition, if you live in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program and you carry flood insurance on your house or structures, you are eligible for additional federal emergency assistance if you are damaged by a base flood event. That assistance may include money for, temporary housing, food, building repairs, etc.
Only about 450 communities in the state of Indiana participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. To see if the community in which you live participates in the NFIP, you can contact your local floodplain administrator or your local building permit official.
What factors determine flood insurance premiums?back to top
A number of factors determine premiums for National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance coverage. Major factors include:
- date of building purchase
- date of policy purchase
- the amount of coverage purchased
- the deductible
- the location, age, and occupancy of the structure
- the flood zone at the site
- the type of building
- the lowest floor relative to the Base Flood Elevation, also referred to as the one percent annual chance flood
Detailed information about flood insurance premium factors can be found at the FEMA Map Service Center and FloodSmart.gov links below. For a summary of changes to the National Flood Insurance Program due to the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA), please see the HFIAA Fact Sheet.
Can I get the flood insurance requirement waived for my property?back to top
You may be able to apply for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or Letter of Map Amendment Out-as-Shown (LOMA-OAS) if you can prove that 1) your structure or property is on natural ground levels with an elevation higher than the Base Flood Elevation (BFE); or that 2) your structure or property is located outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). A LOMA is a letter from FEMA which allows a mortgage lender to waive federal flood insurance requirements by stating that an existing structure, property, or portion of a property that has not been elevated by fill is not located in the Special Flood Hazard Area.
If the structure or property is located inside of the SFHA, the property owner may apply for a LOMA if it can be demonstrated that it is located on natural ground levels with an elevation higher than the BFE. Specific elevation information must be submitted with the LOMA application, typically documented by a licensed surveyor or engineer.
If the structure or property is located outside of the SFHA, the property owner may apply for a LOMA-OAS. Elevation information is not required in this review process. If requesting a LOMA-OAS, please write "Out-As-Shown" at the top of the application form.
Visit www.fema.gov/online-lomc to submit a LOMA application online or to obtain the LOMA application form, instructions, and Elevation Certificate form. These can also be obtained by contacting FEMA toll free at 1-877-336-2627. There is no fee for a LOMA application, although fees may be associated with hiring a surveyor to obtain the elevation information for the Elevation Certificate.
An official floodplain analysis letter from the Division of Water should be obtained before you send in a LOMA request to FEMA if the BFE is not included in FEMA's Flood Insurance Study. You can use the eFARA wizard to obtain an official floodplain analysis from the Division of Water.
Be aware that regardless if FEMA issues a LOMA, the mortgage lender has the final decision regarding flood insurance requirements.