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Viewing Instructions

As you will see in the information below, when you select a Zip Code or Panel Number, the border of thumbnail image of the FIRM panel to be selected should be highlighted in RED.

You can locate a FIRM panel if you know the... 

  • Zip Code or ...

  • FIRM Panel Number or...

  • General Location 

The following Control Menu Options are provided on the left side of the Guide Map window...

Controls... On / Off - Select Off to display Guide Map only.

View... small  LARGE - Sets size of Guide Map panel thumbnail Sizes

Index Map... This is the official community index map that displays the relative location for each panel, along with the complete panel number. 

Select by... ZIP CODE or PANEL #... Because zip code areas may cross over into another community, all zip codes may not be available. This option may only be effective in urban areas because in rural areas a zip code area may include several panels.

In the above image, when a Panel # such as 0020 has been selected from the list of available panel numbers. The border of the matching Guide Map panel image is displayed in RED


To View a FIRM Panel... "Point and Click" on a Guide Map panel image. The FIRM panel selected will appear in a "New Window" on your screen (see image below). You can use your web browser to enlarge the image (check your web browser's "Help File" for details). Since the FIRM panel that is being displayed is larger than your web browser window you will need to use the scroll bars located on the right and bottom of your web browser to scroll around the image. Since the selected FIRM panel is displayed in a "New Window" you can display multiple FIRM panels on your screen.  

To return to the Guide Map "Close Window" or "Minimize Window". 

Please Note: A printing option is not provided with

National Flood Insurance Program

In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in response to the rising cost of taxpayer funded disaster relief for flood victims and the increasing amount of damage caused by floods. 

The NFIP makes Federally-backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. National Flood Insurance is available in more than 19,000 communities across the United States and its territories. 

The NFIP is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Federal Insurance Administration and Mitigation Directorate. The Federal Insurance Administration manages the insurance component of the NFIP, and works closely with FEMA’s Mitigation Directorate, which oversees the floodplain management aspect of the program. 

The NFIP, through partnerships with communities, the insurance industry, and the lending industry, helps reduce flood damage by nearly $800 million a year. Further, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building standards suffer 77 percent less damage annually than those not built in compliance. And, every $3 paid in flood insurance claims saves $1 in disaster assistance payments. 

The NFIP is self-supporting for the average historical loss year, which means that operating expenses and flood insurance claims are not paid for by the taxpayer, but through premiums collected for flood insurance policies.

Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are the official map of a community on which the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has delineated both the special flood hazard areas and the flood risk premium zones applicable to the community. FIRMs are published, maintained, and distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the purpose of displaying areas subject to flooding. 

Communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program have maps of their community showing the different flood zones. The maps are updated from time to time based on topographical changes or population growth in a map coverage area.

Special Flood Hazard Areas

Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are darkly shaded areas on a FIRM or Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) identifying an area with a one percent chance of being flooded in any given year; hence the property is in the 100 year floodplain. Any land area susceptible to being inundated by flood waters from any source is identified as a floodplain.

What is a Flood?

A flood is a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of normally dry land areas from one of the following four sources:

  • The overflow of inland or tidal waters.

  • The unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source.

  • Mudslides (i.e., mudflows) which are proximately caused by floods, as defined above, and are akin to a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land area, as when earth is carried by a current of water and deposited along the path of the current.

  • The collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or other body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding the cyclical levels which result in flood, as defined above.

Flood Maps

The flood maps displayed by are scanned images of the paper FIRMs obtained from the FEMA Map Service Center. uses countywide FIRMs showing flooding information for the entire geographic area of a county including the incorporated communities within the county.

Flood Maps can be formatted by scale, types of jurisdictions included, or type of fold. Many of the Flood Maps produced since January 1985 include floodway and floodplain management information that was not shown on older versions of Flood Maps. Many new Flood Maps also present simplified flood insurance risk zone designations. The most common scales are one inch = 500 feet, one inch = 1,000 feet, and one inch = 2,000 feet. The jurisdictions covered may include partial or entire counties, divisions, parishes, or communities.

Two basic formats used are a "Flat Flood Map" and a "Z-fold Flood Map". A Flat Flood Map consists of a cover page, which includes an index, and one or more 11"x 17" pages. A Z-fold Flood Map consists of panels similar to those found on highway maps; however, each panel on a Z-fold includes a legend. An index is an integral part of a Z-fold Flood Map consisting of more than one panel.

When a Flood Map cannot be presented on one page, it is produced on several pages. Those pages are known as panels. Panels depict the varying flood hazards throughout a community. Each panel includes a title box that contains the name of the community, the panel number, and other information. Flood Maps also include legends. All panels, regardless of their format, include six items that also appear on the index. They are the:

  • community name

  • community number

  • panel number/community panel number/map number

  • corporate limit or county boundary line

  • north arrow

  • effective or revised date

Map Number

Each panel has a panel number and community number.

Example: Harris County, TX . . . 48201C0015 J

48 - First two digits of the number identify the state (Texas)

201C - The next four digits identify the community (Harris County)

0015 - The last four digits identify the map panel

J - Revision Number   

Special References on Maps

Elevation reference marks are found on all flood maps. These marks identify points where a ground elevation is established by survey. These elevations are usually expressed in feet. For some communities, however, the elevations are shown in meters. Descriptions of the marks, including their elevations, are provided; however, descriptions of locations appear in different places depending on the format of the Flood Map.

Areas are identified which are located in the mapped area, but not located within the jurisdiction of the community; hence, that flood hazard information is not shown on the Flood Map.

A symbol identifies undeveloped coastal barriers in the Coastal Barrier Resources System established by the Coastal Barrier Resources Act of 1982 and the Coastal Barrier Improvement Act of 1990 and other related information. These areas are identified because, as required by the 1982 and 1990 Acts, new flood insurance coverage cannot be provided after specified dates for new or substantially improved structures on any Coastal Barrier in the system.

Flood Hazard Area designations appear as dark and light tints. Dark tints indicate areas of increased flood hazard; light tints indicate areas of lesser flood hazard.

Floodplain boundaries show the limits of the 100- and 500-year floodplains.

Most Flood Maps cover only one community. If that community is a county, flooding information is shown only for the areas under the jurisdiction of the county government. Thus, flooding information will not be listed for incorporated areas (e.g., towns and cities) on the Flood Maps produced for most counties. Separate Flood Maps are prepared for incorporated areas.

Recently, however, FEMA has produced countywide Flood Maps. These maps show flooding information for all of the geographic areas of a county, including the towns and cities.

Map Zones

Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are subdivided into zones, described as follows:

ZONE A - The lowest floor elevation is required and the Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) are not provided.

ZONES A1- A30 - The lowest floor elevation is required and the BFEs are provided.

ZONE AE - The new designation for A1-A30 Zones.

ZONE AH - Shallow water depths (ponding) and/or unpredictable flow paths between 1 and 3 feet occur. BFEs are provided.

ZONE AO - Shallow water paths (sheet flow) and/or unpredictable flow paths between 1 and 3 feet occur. BFEs are not provided. Base flood depths may be provided.

ZONE A99 - Progress has been made on a protective system such as dikes, dams, and levees to consider it complete for insurance rating purposes. BFEs are not provided.

ZONE AR - Area that results from the decertification of a previously accredited flood protection system that is determined to be in the process of being restored to provide base flood protection.

ZONES AR/AE, AR/AH, AR/AO, AR/A1-A30, AR/A - Dual flood zones will continue to be subject to flooding after the flood protection system is adequately restored because of flooding from other water sources that the flood protection system does not contain.

ZONE V - An area that is inundated by tidal floods with velocity (coastal high hazard area). BFEs are not provided.

ZONES V1-V30 - Identical to V Zone, but BFEs are provided.

ZONE VE - The new designation for V1-V30 Zones.

ZONE VO - An area having shallow water depths and/or unpredictable flow paths between 1 and 3 feet with velocity.

Moderate, Minimal Hazard Areas are as follows:

ZONES B, C, X - Areas of moderate or minimal hazard subject to flooding from severe storm activity or local drainage problems. These zones may be lightly shaded or unshaded on the FIRM. Zone X is the designation for B and C Zones and is used in place of these zones on some maps.

ZONE D - An area where the flood hazard is undetermined and is usually very sparsely populated. The designation of Zone D can also be used for rating when one community incorporates portions of another community's area where no map has been prepared.

Once you have located your property...

Note the map color where the property is located. Areas darkly shaded are the SFHAs. On a FIRM, the zones are also given an alpha designation. All the area within the boundaries indicated for a zone carries that one zone designation.

Base Flood Elevations in SFHA zones (A1-A30 [or AE], AH, V1-V30 [or VE]) are shown within wavy lines. In some SFHA zones, where the BFE does not vary within the entire zone, the BFE is indicated in parentheses.

For more information visit the...

National Flood Insurance Program Web Site 

  © 2012 - Walter P. Moore & Associates, Inc. - Houston, TX, USA