How To Find Your Home On FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps

FEMAFEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are issued after a flood risk assessment has been completed or updated for a community.  This study is known as a Flood Insurance Study.  The FIRM shows the Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) and insurance risk zones in addition to floodplain boundaries.  The FIRM may also show a delineation of the regulatory floodway.

Once the “insurance risk zone”  (commonly referred to as the flood zone) is determined, actuarial rates, based on these risk zones, are then applied for newly constructed, substantially approved, and substantially damaged buildings.  FEMA uses these rates to determine the insurance rate you will pay for flood insurance.

To view these maps online, go to FEMA’s Map Service Center and enter your address (hi-lited area shown here) search for your home.  This will allow you to then select the map that covers your area.  The Flood Maps are somewhat cumbersome to use online. I suggest going through the tutorial on the bottom right of the address search page in order to learn how to maneuver around in this GIS map.

If you are located in the City of Auburn, you might also check out the Auburn Interactive GIS Maps for more information. The City also has an interactive FEMA map of the existing and proposed flood maps.

Call Auburn Land Surveying at (334) 826-9540 if you need help with this process or if you discover you are near a flood zone and need an elevation survey completed.  We are here to help you minimize your flooding risk.

"Survey Land Twice, Clear-Cut Once"

land surveyI read an article with the above title that reminded me of surveys I’ve been involved with over the years. In most cases the land owner hired a logging company to clear cut their property and the loggers got over the property line in their zeal to get the “big trees that were out there.” In all the cases, it would have saved the landowner a LOT of money to get the boundary marked by a land surveyor.

    “If you want to be certain and not rely on (assumptions) … it should be properly surveyed,” said Herb Suderman, a real estate attorney.

This is a common occurance in rural areas because of more logging being done there. BUT, this same type problem happens regularly in town by landowners building home additions, driveways, fences, swimming pools, storage buildings over the property line.

Even if you’re sure you’re not over the property line, there are also easement lines and setback lines on most lots that must be avoided.

Please check your property lines and your property survey drawing before undertaking any building or clearing project. As the cliche’ goes, “you can pay me now or pay me later.” And, I’ll add to that cliche’ and say that it always costs you more later.

    “In rural areas because it’s more expensive to survey a large parcel of land, often the surveys are not done,” he said, adding that can cause some “big surprises.”

And, while you probably don’t REALLY need to survey twice, at least once is highly recommended before you “clear-cut” your land.

New ALTA Survey Standards from ALTA/ACSM

New ALTA Survey Standards

ALTA SurveyThe ALTA Survey Standards are being revised and will become effective February 23, 2011. Recently, committees from both the NSPS and ALTA met to review and approve the upcoming standards.  The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), which is a member organization of the American Congress on Surveying & Mapping (ACSM) is a trade organization for the profession of surveying and mapping.  For years ACSM has been the leader among surveying organizations in working with ALTA to develop these nationally recognized surveying standards.  ALTA is the American Land Title Association,  and is the trade association and national voice of the abstract and title insurance industry.

2011 Minimum Standard Detail Requirements for ALTA/ACSM Land Title Surveys  

Summary of Significant Changes from the 2005 Standards to the 2011 Standards

Annotations on American Congress on Surveying and Mapping – ALTA/ACSM Standards

Changes to ALTA Survey Wording

The ACSM website has a “Summary of Significant Wording Changes” document, which spells out changes to the ALTA survey standards, which have not changed since 2005. Some of the noted changes are:

  • Expands on the “Relative Precision” of the survey
  • Expands on documents to be provided by surveyors
  • Requires more measurements when a water feature is one of the boundaries
  • Suggests that new legal descriptions might not be necessary
  • Requires a lot more information on easements
  • Reinforces that the title opinion should be furnished to the surveyor before the survey begins
  • Expands Table A to include a number of new items which may be requested by clients

While none of these are major changes, surveyors AND those ordering an ALTA survey should be aware of them. One item that I’ve heard a lot of noise about is item #21 on Table A, which, if checked, would required the surveyor to obtain professional liability insurance for the particular survey project. Many surveyors don’t carry professional liability insurance because of the expense of this type of insurance. This will significantly change the price of an ALTA survey if the item is checked.

Surveyors and Clients should discuss the Table A items in detail each time anyway, but this is a big red flag that should be addressed. We’ll see how this plays out in the future and what it will be doing for ALTA Survey.

Winter Snow Melt Could Mean Higher Flood Risk Than Last Eight Years

flood survey | flooding potentialWhile we here in Alabama may not have to worry TOO much about snow melt, this does affect our flooding potential, especially in the northern counties of the state. Folks in the Huntsville area, and many other areas of the state, have seen their FEMA flood maps change recently. Many who were “out of the flood zone” are now shown “in the flood zone.” While, technically, the flood zone hasn’t really changed, the new, and more extensive drainage studies that were done, have identified more areas that are at risk of flooding. Well, this new study could be just in time for you IF you pay attention to your flood risks.
If you live along, or near, a major river in our area, then you should pay attention to this issue as an article on this year’s flood outlook warns.
   It’s kind of hard with this much on the ground to start talking about flooding and planning and thinking flooding, but when you’ve got this much snow and we’re coming into the time of year we’re coming into, if you’re wise you’ll start planning for flooding, said Marion County Emergency Management Director John Hark.
Another factor for river flooding is ground saturation level based on the amount and frequency of spring rains. If you get a couple of days of light to moderate rain, then on the next day you get a “toad strangler” (technical term) then the ground will likely be saturated and cannot soak up any more water. This means that the majority of the storm water will runoff and cause the streams and rivers to swell more than they would normally in an equal size rain event. This is actually called the “antecedent moisture condition.” We normally count on the ground to soak up from thirty to sixty percent of the rainfall it sees. With a high antecedent moisture condition, this could be reduced to as low as ten percent, about equivalent to runoff from paved surfaces.
If you are unsure of the flooding potential or flood risk in your area, please contact a land surveyor before it is too late. A land surveyor can conduct a flood survey or elevation survey which will determine the elevation of your house in relation to the base flood elevation. Armed with this information you will know if you need to purchase flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance will minimize the risk of flood damage to your home. You might not be able to prevent a flood, but you can sure prevent it from costing you a tremendous amount of money. See this article to estimate the costs of flood damage to your home.
You can use the included instructions to find your home on the new Flood Insurance Rate Maps. If you have trouble, please call us today at Auburn Land Surveying  at (334) 826-9540.  Don’t wait till the river starts to rise.