What is a Special Flood Hazard Area?
In support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), FEMA has undertaken a massive effort of flood hazard identification and mapping to produce Flood Hazard Boundary Maps (FHBMs), Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), and Flood Boundary and Floodway Maps (FBFMs).

Several areas of flood hazards are commonly identified on these maps. One of these areas is the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), which is defined as an area of land that would be inundated by a flood having a 1% chance of occurring in any given year (also referred to as the base flood or 100-year flood). The 1% annual chance standard was chosen after considering various alternatives.

The standard constitutes a reasonable compromise between the need for building restrictions to minimize potential loss of life and property and the economic benefits to be derived from floodplain development. Development may take place within the SFHA, provided that development complies with local floodplain management ordinances, which must meet the minimum federal requirements. Flood insurance is required for insurable structures within the SFHA to protect federal financial investments and assistance used for acquisition and/or construction purposes within communities participating in the NFIP.

Show All Answers

1. What do I need to know if my building is in the floodplain?
2. What documents does FEMA need from my insurance company?
3. What is a flood?
4. What is a Special Flood Hazard Area?
5. What is a Flood Insurance Study (FIS)?
6. What elevation is used when rating a structure for a flood insurance policy?
7. What is earthen fill and how does it affect the floodplain?
8. What is an elevation certificate?