Federal Floodplain Management


FEMA Presentation at 2022 KAMM Conference

Floodplain Management and Insurance Branch Region IV Update – Roy McClure, FEMA RIV


Federal Floodplain Management

FEMA’s website covers a broad range of Floodplain Management topics that includes information on how to join the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), participating in the Community Rating System (CRS) and other topics related to the adoption and enforcement of floodplain management standards.

Communities incorporate NFIP requirements into their zoning codes, subdivision ordinances, and/or building codes or adopt special purpose floodplain management ordinances.  The NFIP requirements apply to areas mapped as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) issued by FEMA.  The SFHA is the area that would be flooded by the “base flood” (defined as the flood that has a 1 percent chance of occurring in any given year; also known as the “100-year flood”).

The NFIP requirements include:

  • Elevation of new and substantially improved residential structures above the base flood level.
  • Elevation or dry floodproofing (made watertight) of new or substantially improved non-residential structures.
  • Prohibition of development in floodways, the central portion of a riverine floodplain needed to carry deeper and faster moving water.
  • Additional requirements to protect buildings in coastal areas from the impacts of waves, high velocity, and storm surge.

These requirements are the most cost-effective way to reduce the flood risk to new buildings and infrastructure.  Structures built to NFIP standards experience 80 percent less damage than structures not built to these standards and have resulted in $1.2 billion per year in reduced flood losses.

In addition to protecting new buildings, the NFIP substantial improvement and substantial damage requirement ensures that flood protection measures are integrated in structures built before FIRMs were developed.  A building is considered substantially improved or substantially damaged when the cost of improving or repairing the building equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building.  When this occurs, the community, which makes the determination, must ensure that the NFIP requirements are applied to these building so that they are protected from future flood damages.



NFIP Program Manual

FEMA has released the updated edition of the National Flood Insurance Program’s Flood Insurance Manual. The new Flood Insurance Manual, which became effective April 1, 2024, reflects the NFIP’s existing underwriting requirements and its current rating methodology. It does not change flood insurance coverage or supersede the terms and conditions of the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP). 

Download the new National Flood Insurance Program Manual

FEMA Laws and Regulations and the NFIP

The NFIP regulations, a part of the FEMA regulations, are set forth at 44 CFR 59 through 44 CFR 80. These regulations, updated yearly, include, but are not limited to issues related to flood insurance and mitigation, such as community floodplain activities, land management, policy rating and the actual standard flood insurance Policy. F-775 lists the related sections of 44 CFR and includes links to finding those regulations, related laws and other useful sites.  Link here to the  FEMA Laws and Regulations and the NFIP.

The Stafford Act constitutes the statutory authority for most Federal disaster response activities especially as they pertain to FEMA and FEMA programs.  FEMA, through its Office of Chief Counsel, has produced an updated electronic version of the Stafford Act.  Download the Stafford Act, stafford_act_booklet_04 22 13.   Some highlights and new features:  Contains all changes to the Stafford Act since 2007, including the Sandy Recovery Improvement Act (SRIA) of 2013.  The document is optimized for portable tablet devices:  From the Table of Contents, you can click on the statute name or number and you’ll jump to the statutory text.

Specific CFR

CFR 60.3 – Flood plain management criteria for flood-prone areas  requirements

  • (b) (5) – Requirement to Obtain Lowest Floor Elevation in Zone A,  Elevation Data
  • (c) (3) – Requirements for Nonresidential Buildings
  • (c) (4) – Floodproofing Certification
  • (c) (5) – Floodproofing Certification
  • (d) (3) – Floodway Encroachment Review and No-rise Certification
  • (e) (2) – Elevation Data

Certain activities (e.g., floodproofing design, survey of building elevations, hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, survey and topographic data) require certification by a licensed professional architect, engineer, surveyor, or the community floodplain administrator.


Elevation Certificate

 A community’s permit file must have an official record that shows new buildings and substantial improvements in all identified Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are properly elevated.  The NFIP Elevation Certificate  is an administrative tool of the NFIP which is to be used to provide elevation information necessary to ensure compliance with community floodplain management ordinances, to determine the proper insurance premium rate, or support a request for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) or a Letter of Map Amendment based on fill (LOMR-F).  This elevation information is needed to show compliance with the floodplain management ordinance.

FEMA encourages communities to use the Elevation Certificate developed by FEMA to fulfill this requirement since it also can be used by the property owner to obtain flood insurance.  Communities participating in the Community Rating System (CRS) are required to use the FEMA Elevation Certificate.

Any Elevation Certificate submitted for review dated November 1, 2023 or after must be on the new Elevation Certificate (FF-206-FY22-152).

The new Dry Floodproofing Certificate for Non-Residential Structures was released on July 7th and must be used as of November 1, 2023 as well. Copies of these forms can be accessed via FEMA’s Underwriting Forms webpage:  https://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance/find-form/underwriting. To access the forms, please copy the link to a folder on your computer and open it from there. You must have Adobe software to open it.

If you have any questions about the use of these forms, please contact your CRS Resource Specialist or your ISO/CRS Specialist.

Download forms at the links below:

EC Correction Form

CRS EC Checklist

CRS Required Fields

Form 152

Form 153

The EC is referenced in the NFIP Flood Insurance Manual (Special Certifications Section).  The EC form is fillable and can be completed in either Adobe Acrobat Pro or Adobe Reader and saved.

For guidance on Lowest Floor, link here.  


Floodproofing Certificate

Documentation of certification by a registered professional engineer or architect that the design and methods of construction of a nonresidential building are in accordance with accepted practices for meeting the floodproofing requirements in the community’s floodplain management ordinance.  This documentation is required for both floodplain management requirements and insurance rating purposes.

For insurance rating purposes, a building’s floodproofed design elevation must be at least one foot above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) to receive full rating credit for the floodproofing.  If the building is floodproofed only to the BFE, the flood insurance rates will be considerably higher.

Communities are encouraged to use the one-page FEMA floodproofing certification form because it fulfills NFIP insurance rating needs as well as floodplain management requirements.


Updated WISER Module on Floodplain Management, Wetlands, and Flood Insurance Now Available (Must have a HUD account)

The updated Floodplain Management, Wetlands, and Flood Insurance module is now available on the HUD Exchange through the Web-Based Instructional System for Environmental Review (WISER)!

The WISER on-demand training series ensures that recipients and subrecipients understand the various areas to be considered in conducting an environmental review. It offers detailed and specific information on each topic, enabling users to learn about the broad range of risks to the environment to consider while completing a comprehensive environmental review. Each module includes knowledge checks to confirm comprehension and links to needed resources.

In the Floodplain Management, Wetlands, and Flood Insurance module, learn more about:
* The laws and authorities governing floodplain management, wetlands, and flood insurance
* The Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS)
* The use of existing resources to analyze the impacts of the proposed project on floodplains and wetlands to assess flood risk and determine the mitigation requirements

View the Floodplain Management, Wetlands, and Flood Insurance Module

Flood-Resistant Material

Flood-resistant material includes any building product capable of withstanding direct and prolonged contact with floodwaters without sustaining significant damage. Prolonged contact is defined as at least 72 hours. Significant damage is any damage requiring more than low-cost cosmetic repair (such as painting). All structural and non-structural building materials at or below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) must be flood resistant.

NFIP Requirements

  • 60.3 (a)(3) – Reasonably Safe from Flooding

Link to https://www.fema.gov/glossary/flood-resistant-material


No-rise Certification for Floodways

Any project in a floodway must be reviewed to determine if the project will increase flood heights.  An engineering analysis must be conducted before a permit can be issued.  The community’s permit file must have a record of the results of this analysis, which can be in the form of a No-rise Certification.  This No-rise Certification must be supported by technical data and signed by a registered professional engineer.  The supporting technical data should be based on the standard step-backwater computer model used to develop the 100-year floodway shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM).

  • 60.3 (d) (3) – Floodway Requirement

Related Key Words

  • Certifications – Certain activities (e.g., floodproofing design, survey of building elevations, hydrologic and hydraulic analyses, survey and topographic data) require certification by a licensed professional architect, engineer, surveyor, or the community floodplain administrator.
  • Community Rating System (CRS)

NFIP Technical Bulletins

FEMA Technical Bulletins provide guidance concerning the building performance standards of the NFIP, which are contained in Title 44 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations at Section 60.3.  The bulletins are intended for use primarily by State and local officials responsible for interpreting and enforcing NFIP regulations and by members of the development community, such as design professionals and builders.

The bulletins do not create regulations, rather they provide specific guidance for complying with the minimum requirements of existing NFIP regulations.  Users of the Technical Bulletins who need additional guidance concerning NFIP regulatory requirements should contact the appropriate FEMA Regional Office.


Floodplain Management Requirements Study Guide

This study guide and desk reference can serve two purposes.  First, it can be used as a study guide to enhance the knowledge and skills of local officials responsible for administering and enforcing local floodplain management regulations.  It is also intended to broaden their understanding of floodplain management strategies that can be applied at the local level.

Secondly, the study guide can be used as a desk reference that you can refer to when specific issues arise as you implement your management ordinance.  Guidance is included on how to handle many of the issues and information provided that will help you explain the requirements to citizens of your community.

While any interested person may use this study guide and desk reference, it is written specifically for the local official who is responsible for administering his or her community’s floodplain management regulations.

  • Table of Contents (PDF 55KB, TXT 34KB)
  • Unit O: Orientation (PDF 89KB, TXT 6KB)
  • Unit 1: Floodplain Management (PDF 2116KB, TXT 49KB)
  • Unit 2: The National Flood Insurance Program (PDF 386KB, TXT 27KB)
  • Unit 3: NFIP Flood Studies & Maps (PDF 1370KB, TXT 76KB)
  • Unit 4: Using NFIP Studies & Maps (PDF 752KB, TXT 44KB)
  • Unit 5: The NFIP Floodplain Management Requirements (PDF 2836KB, TXT 116KB)
  • Unit 6: Additional Regulatory Measures (PDF 1198KB, TXT 60KB)
  • Unit 7: Ordinance Administration (PDF 1010KB, TXT 108KB)
  • Unit 8: Substantial Improvements & Substantial Damage (PDF 697KB, TXT 41KB)
  • Unit 9: Flood Insurance & Floodplain Management (PDF 534KB, TXT 45KB)
  • Unit 10: Disaster Operations & Hazard Mitigation (PDF 1287KB, TXT 55KB)
  • Appendix A: FEMA Regional Offices (PDF 21KB, TXT 2KB)
  • Appendix B: State Contacts (PDF 78KB, TXT 20KB)
  • Appendix C: References (PDF 25KB, TXT 9KB)
  • Appendix  D: Glossary (PDF 45KB, TXT 26KB)
  • Appendix  E: NFIP Regulations (PDF 209KB, TXT 209KB)
  • Appendix  F: FEMA Forms (PDF 627KB, TXT 31KB)
  • Appendix  G: EMI Courses (PDF 18KB, TXT 4KB)
  • Appendix  H: Learning Checks & Exercises (PDF 299KB, TXT 141KB)


Floodplain Management Links

How to Read a Flood Insurance Rate Map Tutorial

The tutorial includes a section that contains examples of how to get specific information from FIRMs.

How to Find Your FIRM and Make a FIRMette

This tutorial provides instructions on how to find a FIRM for an area of interest and create a printable FIRMette.

Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) Tutorial

This tutorial educates users on the use and application of FIRMs produced by FEMA in support of the NFIP. Each component of the FIRM is explored. The tutorial includes a section that contains examples of how to get specific information from FIRMs. (Text Equivalent)


Flood Insurance Study (FIS) Tutorial

This tutorial educates users on the use and application of FIS reports produced by FEMA in support of the NFIP. Each component of the FIS report, including the data tables and Flood Profiles, is explored and explained. (Text Equivalent)







Mitigation Matters!  

Have questions? Contact us at help@kymitigation.org.

KAMM mailing address: KAMM, PO Box 1016, Frankfort, KY 40602-1016.  

Don’t forget to join the KAMM group on LinkedIn and Facebook.

KAMM is a non-profit 501 (c) (3).