NOTICE: STAFFORD COUNTY’S FLOOD MAPS ARE BEING UPDATED
WHAT IS A FLOODPLAIN?
Floodplains are generally flat areas outside of the banks of a waterbody. Here is an example of a floodplain in Stafford County:
WHY IS FLOODPLAIN MANAGEMENT IMPORTANT?
Floodplains store excess stormwater during large storm events and reduce the speed of flood waters. They provide risk reduction benefits and considerable economic, social and environmental value. Natural floodplains frequently contain wetlands and other important ecological areas that provide fish and wildlife habitat, flood control, erosion control, water quality, groundwater recharge, biological productivity and higher quality recreational opportunities.
CAN I BE IMPACTED BY FLOODING?
Everyone lives and works in an area with some flood risk. Many properties in Stafford County are susceptible to riverine flooding, localized flooding, coastal flooding and/or storm surge flooding. Flood risk can vary from low to moderate to high. By understanding and evaluating your property’s risk for flooding, you can protect your property from flood damage.
Community flood maps are used to identify flood hazards and assess flood risk. Stafford County’s flood maps can be found on the County’s interactive mapping site or through FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center. Please note these maps are for general information only and do not depict any areas with a drainage area of less than one square mile.
Remember, where it rains it can flood. If you are a property owner in the county interested in learning more about flood risk please visit FEMA’s webpage on Preparing Your Home or Business for Flood Risk.
UNDERSTAND YOUR FLOOD RISK
Moderate to Low-Risk Areas:
- X (shaded) Zone: Area of moderate flood hazard, usually the area between the limits of the 100-year and 500-year floods.
- X (unshaded) Zone: Area of minimal flood hazard, usually depicted on FIRMs as above the 500-year flood level.
High-Risk Areas (SFHAs):
- A Zone (Approximated floodplain): Detailed analyses have not been performed on these areas; therefore, no base flood elevations are shown.
- AE Zone: Base flood elevations have been developed using detailed analyses.
- AH Zone: Areas of shallow flooding. Flooding is usually in the form of ponding with average depths between one and three feet. Base flood elevations have been developed using detailed analyses.
- AO Zone: Areas subject to flooding in the form of sheet flow with average depths between one and three feet. Average flood depths are shown as developed from detailed analyses.
- VE Zone: Areas along coasts subject to waves greater than 3 feet. Base flood elevations have been developed using detailed analyses.
If you own a property in a high-risk zone and have a federally backed-mortgage, you are required to purchase flood insurance. These areas have a 1% annual chance of flooding and a 26% chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage.Riverline Flooding Zones:
COMMUNITY RATING SYSTEM (CRS)
To provide premium discounts to the county’s homeowners, renters and business owners, the county participates in FEMA’s Community Rating System (CRS).
CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management practices that exceed the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Over 1,500 communities participate nationwide, and Stafford County is one of them.
In CRS communities, like Stafford, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community’s efforts that address the three goals of the program:
- Reduce and avoid flood damage to insurable property
- Strengthen and support the insurance aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program
- Foster comprehensive floodplain management
This discount is already automatically applied to your policy for your convenience. For additional information, you may visit the FEMA Region III site, or contact the Environmental Division Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:00 am and 4:30 pm, at 540-658-8830.
DEVELOPING IN FLOODPLAINS
All development within floodplains requires a floodplain study review by the county. A floodplain study must be completed by a licensed professional with the knowledge and experience to certify the study. Floodplain study applications can be downloaded from here.
A LOMR MUST BE SUBMITTED TO FEMA IMMEDIATELY AFTER PROJECT COMPLETION
MT-1 application types:
LOMA: Letter of Map Amendment; A letter from DHS-FEMA stating that an existing structure or parcel of land that has not been elevated by fill (natural grade) would not be inundated by the base flood.
CLOMA: Conditional Letter of Map Amendment; A letter from DHS-FEMA stating that a proposed structure that is not to be elevated by fill (natural grade) would not be inundated by the base flood if built as proposed. A LOMA must then be submitted once the building is built.
LOMR-F: Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill; A letter from DHS-FEMA stating that an existing structure or parcel of land that has been elevated by fill would not be inundated by the base flood.
CLOMR-F: Conditional Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill; A letter from DHS-FEMA stating that a parcel of land or proposed structure that will be elevated by fill would not be inundated by the base flood if fill is placed on the parcel as proposed or the structure is built as proposed. A LOMR-F must then be submitted once the project is completed.
Frequently Asked Questions about Floodplains
Homeowners and business owners can buy flood insurance by calling your insurance company or calling your local independent agent, who can write flood insurance directly with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP partners with more than 50 private insurance companies and the NFIP Direct to sell and service flood insurance policies.
If you don’t have an insurance company or if your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, use the NFIP insurance provider locator to find a provider near you.
Elevation certificates ensure a property’s flood risk is accurately rated and recorded with the NFIP. To obtain an elevation certificate, contact a licensed surveyor. Typically, an elevation certificate costs several hundred dollars, and can be requested as part of the survey that is done when you build or purchase a house. By having your flood insurance policy rated using an elevation certificate, you could save money on your flood insurance premium. They can also be used when submitting an LOMC for an official FEMA flood zone determination for your house.
More information can be found on the NFIP’s website.
Download a Fillable Elevation Certificate
Note: If you get a “Please Wait” error when trying to download the new Elevator Certificate form, it’s due to some incompatibility issues with the alternative PDF viewer used by certain browsers. Here’s a workaround:
• Right-click on the Download File link and select “save link as”
• Save it to your PC
• Once it’s on your PC, you should be able to open it.
This site has more details, but the instructions are basically the same for every browser.
If you think your property has been incorrectly mapped in a high-risk area, you may submit a request to FEMA for a Letter of Map Change (LOMC). A LOMC reflects an official revision/amendment to an effective FIRM and determines the official flood zone designation for the structure/property that is applied for. If the LOMC request is granted and you are determined to be within a low-to-moderate risk area, it may assist with disputing the Mandatory Purchase requirement by your lender.
Applicants can use the online LOMC application to easily request a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA or LOMR-F) or Letter of Map Revision (LOMR).
If the request is being made for a LOMA to be issued on a single residential property with no fill placed, the MT-EZ form, may be used instead.
Additional guidance and information about the application process and required documents to submit can be found on the FEMA website here.
Stafford County NFIP Community Numbers: 510154 & 51179C
The Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) update is administered by FEMA. FEMA is responsible for drawing and revising the maps and will adjudicate all appeals. Inquiries seeking technical guidance regarding appeals are directed to the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX), toll free, at 1-877-FEMA-MAP. Stafford County has participated in the review of the flood hazard data collected to prepare the updated maps and reviewed and commented on the preliminary maps once released. Stafford County is responsible for public outreach and will serve as a point of contact for citizens with questions regarding the process.
The flood insurance federal mandate, known as the Mandatory Purchase Requirement, only applies to structures being mapped into the high-risk flood zone with federally-backed loans and mortgages. If you have a federally-backed mortgage on your home or business, and the new maps identify your property is within the high-risk flood zone, the lender will require you to carry flood insurance. However, other lender requirements may be more stringent and could still require flood insurance in low-risk areas if it is a part of the loan agreement. Your lender should be able to provide that information to you. If a portion of your property is being mapped into the floodplain but your house is not, your mortgage company may still require flood insurance. Please note Stafford County does not regulate, require, administer, or provide flood insurance.
Even if you are not required to have it, it’s still a good idea to consider purchasing flood insurance protection. About 25% of flood insurance claims come from areas with low-to-moderate flood risk. Homeowners and renter’s insurance do not typically cover flood damage. Flood insurance will pay claims regardless of whether or not there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
Many different factors go into the pricing of a policy so the exact cost will vary based on your individual property. Rating factors include flood risk variables, such as flood frequency, flood types, distance to a water source, elevation, and the cost to rebuild. This results in a more equitable distribution of premiums across all policyholders based on home value and a property’s unique flood risk.
If your insurance agent sells flood insurance, please contact them for a quote. If they do not provide it, other insurance providers can be found in your state here. All of the NFIP insurance providers use the same set of criteria for rating the policy so there is no need to “shop around”.
The following waterbodies are subject to tidal flow and therefore may be more susceptible to significant flood events:
- Rappahannock River
- Potomac Creek
- Accokeek Creek
- Aquia Creek
- Chopawamsic Creek
The Map provides an effective way to visualize the magnitude and impacts of coastal flooding within the Chesapeake Bay and along Virginia's Eastern Shore. The data are generated in 36 hour forecasts each morning and evening. The display is updated twice daily and will show either 6am to 6pm the following day OR 6pm to 6am the day after tomorrow. You can "click" through the display using the arrows on the right end of the slide bar at the bottom of the map, or automate the display by clicking on the arrow on the left of the slide bar.
The Map also contains a charting tool. Click anywhere in the analysis extent to display a chart with two lines: one showing water elevation over the next 36 hours at that location and the other showing the land elevation at that location. This enables the user to quickly estimate when and to what degree flooding will occur at a given location.
- Steps to Prepare for a Flood: https://www.floodsmart.gov/first-prepare-flooding
- Risk Rating 2.0 – Equity in Action: https://agents.floodsmart.gov/agents-guide/risk-rating
- Find a flood insurance provider: gov/flood-insurance/providers
- What’s Covered by Your Flood Policy: https://www.floodsmart.gov/whats-covered
- Visit FEMA’s Flood Insurance Advocate page at gov/flood-insurance/advocate to learn more about fair treatment of policyholders and property owners.