Know Your Flood Hazard

Flood Zone Definitions

100-year Flood

Floodplain MapAs determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, a flood event of a magnitude expected to be equaled or exceeded once on the average during any 100-year period. The term "100-year flood" is misleading. It is not the flood that will occur once every 100 years. Rather, it is the flood elevation that has a 1-% chance of being equaled or exceeded each year. Thus, the 100-year flood could occur more than once in a relatively short period of time. The 100-year flood, which is the standard used by most Federal and state agencies, is used by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) as the standard for floodplain management and to determine the need for flood insurance.

Base Flood Elevation

The expected flood height measured in feet above mean sea level (NAVD 1988 Datum)

Zone A

Flood hazard areas inundated by the 100 Year Flood, no base flood elevations determined.

Zone AE

Flood hazard areas inundated by the 100 Year Flood, with base flood elevations determined.

Zone B, C & X

Areas determined to be outside the 100 year flood plain.

Flood Zone Determination Requests

To see if you are in a mapped floodplain contact the Stormwater Compliance at 706-447-7645. The official flood maps and flood protection references are available at the Columbia County Library, and at the Stormwater Utility Department in Building A of the Evans Government Complex.

The NFIP & Insuring Your Property

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase flood insurance on eligible buildings and contents, whether they are in or out of a floodplain. Columbia County participates in the NFIP, making federally backed flood insurance available to its property owners.

The NFIP insures most walled and roofed buildings that are principally above ground on a permanent foundation, including mobile homes, and buildings in the course of construction. Property owners can purchase building and contents coverage from any local property and casualty insurance agent. To find a local insurance agent that writes flood insurance in your area visit the Flood Smart website.

View the Food Smart How I can Pay Less for Flood Insurance.

Mandatory Purchase Requirement

Pursuant to the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory for all federal or federally related financial assistance for the acquisition and/or construction of buildings in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). An SFHA is defined as any A or V flood zone on a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).

The mandatory purchase requirement also applies to secured loans from such financial institutions as commercial lenders, savings and loan associations, savings banks, and credit unions that are regulated, supervised, or insured by federal agencies, such as the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Comptroller of Currency, the Farm Credit Administration, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the National Credit Union Administration. It further applies to all loans purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in the secondary mortgage market.

Federal financial assistance programs affected by the laws include loans and grants from agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Farmers Home Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Small Business Administration, and FEMA disaster assistance.

How it Works

When making, increasing, renewing or extending any type of federally backed loan, lenders are required to conduct a flood zone determination using the most current FEMA FIRM to determine if any part of the building is located in a SFHA. If the building is in a SFHA, the federal agency or lender is required by law to provide written notification to the borrower that flood insurance is mandatory as a condition of the loan. Even though a portion of real property on which a building is located may lie within the SFHA, the purchase and notification requirements do not apply unless the building itself, or some part of the building, is in the SFHA. However, lenders, on their own initiative, may require the purchase of flood insurance even if a building is located outside an SFHA. Up to 25% of all NFIP losses arise from outside SFHAs (B, C and X Zones).

Under federal regulations, the required coverage must equal the amount of the loan (excluding appraised value of the land) or the maximum amount of insurance available from the NFIP, whichever is less. The maximum amount of coverage available for a single-family residence is $250,000 and for non-residential (commercial) buildings is $500,000. Federal agencies and regulators, including government-sponsored enterprises, such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, may have stricter requirements.

Flood Insurance

Your homeowners' insurance policy does not protect you from flood damage.

With Columbia County subscribing to the Community Rating System (CRS) program and having a highly rated management program, business and residences in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) receive a 20% discount on their flood insurance premiums.

Remember: Even if the last flood missed you or you have done some floodproofing, the next flood could be worse. Flood insurance covers all surface floods.