Local governments participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and regulate the activities that take place in designated Special Flood Hazard Areas. In exchange, FEMA offers flood insurance to property owners and renters. The combination of floodplain management and insurance reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters.
DLCD coordinates implementation of the NFIP in Oregon through an agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Almost all cities and counties in Oregon that are subject to flooding participate in the NFIP. DLCD staff provide assistance and training to local floodplain managers, property owners, surveyors, real estate agents, and others to ensure they remain in good standing with the NFIP.
Additional Information and Resources:
The floodplain is the area susceptible to inundation by flood waters. Under the NFIP, areas that have a 1% chance in any given year of being covered by flood waters are mapped as a Special Flood Hazard Areas, requiring floodplain management according to NFIP standards.
Floodplains perform functions valuable to both humans and wildlife. Important functions of the floodplain might include: flood water storage, water quality maintenance, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation/open space.
Floodplains provide important habitat areas including river channels, riparian buffers, and wetlands. The variety of habitat types, the presence of water, and other factors result in a rich diversity of plant and animal species. Additionally, vegetation that grows in the floodplain influences how water flows across the land and can play a major role in controlling erosion and sediment deposition. When these features are lost, habitat and species diversity suffer.
Oregonians will continue to use floodplains for a variety of purposes. Floodplain management aims to reduce flood losses to life and property while simultaneously protecting the natural functions of floodplains. Floodplain management involves regulatory, construction, and public education measures designed to avoid and minimize negative effects of development in Special Flood Hazard Areas.
People who live and work in Special Flood Hazard Areas play a crucial role in protecting floodplain functions and ensuring speedy recovery after a flood. People with federally backed mortgages are required to maintain flood insurance.
Is Your Property within a Floodplain?
If you are unsure about whether your property is within a Special Flood Hazard Area, you can look at the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for your area. These are the same maps that insurance agents use to determine your flood risk and insurance rates. Go to FEMA's Flood Map Service Center to get started.
Enter your property's address into the search bar and click Search. If a FIRM is available for your address, you can then click "View/Print" the Map Image to see the map for your area. You can also download the map to your computer or use FEMA's online interactive web map.
If you need help reading the FIRM, check out FEMA's Flood Insurance Rate Map Tutorial (Requires Adobe Flash Player). You can also contact your local planning office to inquire about floodplains, FIRMs, and how they relate to your property. If you need additional help, please contact the Oregon NFIP Coordinator, Celinda Adair.
An Elevation Certificate will likely be needed by your insurance agent to purchase flood insurance from the NFIP. This document must be prepared by Licensed Land Surveyor or Registered Professional Engineer. One key piece of information displayed on a completed elevation certificate is the base flood elevation (BFE), which is the expected elevation of a flood that has a 1% chance of happening in any given year. The relationship of the BFE to the elevation of the building's floors helps determine the cost of flood insurance. Buildings having their lowest fully enclosed floor above base flood elevation often enjoy lower insurance costs than buildings with enclosed floors below the base flood elevation.
How do I Correct an Error on a FIRM?
If you believe your property has been improperly shown as being within the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), you can submit a request to FEMA to amend the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). There are two different processes to request a map change. The process you choose depends on the reason you believe your property should be excluded from the SFHA. These processes are referred to as the Letter of Map Amendment, or LOMA, and the Letter of Map Revision Based on Fill, or LOMR-F. Through these processes, an individual who owns, rents or leases property may submit certain mapping and survey information to FEMA and request that FEMA issue a document that officially removes a property and/or structure from the SFHA. In many cases, the applicant will need to hire a Licensed Land Surveyor or Registered Professional Engineer to prepare the application. The FEMA website has more information on what is involved with each process, along with links to submit your map change request online.
The NFIP's floodplain development standards aim to ensure that elements of the built environment that are within the Special Flood Hazard Area can withstand a flood. Because we expect floods to occur in these area and to damage buildings, these regulations help save money on rebuilding costs in the long run.
The NFIP sets out minimum standards that must be enacted by local regulation (see below). Always contact the city or county planning department before starting projects located in the Special Flood Hazard Area. Local planners can help you understand applicable regulations and determine if you need a permit or review of the proposed development.
If your work will involve a waterway or wetland, you will need to contact the
Department of State Lands for a state permit, and/or the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a federal permit. Contact the local city or county planning office for more information.
Establishing and Managing Local Floodplain Regulations
Participation in the NFIP by local government ensures that individuals and businesses are able to purchase federally-backed flood insurance. This flood insurance would otherwise not be readily available. Local governments must adopt and enforce certain requirements to maintain participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). DLCD works actively with local governments to help them achieve and maintain their NFIP status.
Minimum FEMA requirements for local governments include, but are not limited to:
- Requiring permits for all floodplain development (any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation, drilling operations, or storage of equipment and materials located within the area of special flood hazard).
- Reviewing building permit applications for new construction and substantial improvements within the floodplain, and ensuring that specific measures (e.g., elevation, anchoring, flood-proofing, installation of flood vents, breakaway walls, etc.) are taken to avoid or reduce flood damage.
- Obtaining Elevation and Flood-proofing Certifications for new development and substantial improvements to existing developments.
- Ensuring that encroachments into the floodway portion of the 100-year floodplain are prohibited if they cause any increase in flood levels.
- Notifying permit applicants that other state and federal permits may be required (for example, wetland fill permits, permits for work in navigable waterways, etc.) and ensuring that the applicant obtains required state and federal permits.
- Maintaining permit records and related materials and ensuring that these documents are available for public, state, and FEMA inspection.
- Educating local citizens about local flood hazards and local floodplain regulations.
Oregon Model Flood Hazard Ordinance (New version released 2020) was developed in cooperation with FEMA to help communities achieve compliance with the minimum NFIP and state standards for floodplain management. FEMA approved the model ordinance in August of 2019 and it is now available for communities to use. In addition to the minimum requirements, FEMA and DLCD encourage local governments to adopt higher standards that make sense for each community and their unique flood risk. DLCD assists local communities in this process. Contact us for more information.
Biological Opinion on the NFIP
The Endangered Species Act (ESA) requires federal agencies to ensure that actions they authorize, fund, or carry out do not jeopardize the continued existence of any ESA listed species. For several years, the NOAA-Fisheries and FEMA have been discussing measures that could be used to reduce negative impacts from the NFIP on salmon, steelhead and other species listed as threatened under the ESA. In April 2016, NOAA-Fisheries delivered a jeopardy Biological Opinion (BiOp) to FEMA, stating that parts of the NFIP could have a negative impact on the habitat of endangered salmon species.
The Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPA's) included within the 2016 BiOp proposed alternative approaches to the NFIP standards that, when implemented, would avoid continued jeopardy for the listed species and habitat. Note, the Oregon NFIP BiOp and its RPA's do not directly require any action of state, local, or Tribal governments participating in the NFIP, because the consultation on NFIP impacts to listed species is between two federal agencies, FEMA and National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). FEMA does not have authority in local land use decisions.
In October 2021, FEMA issued its Draft Implementation Plan for the BiOp laying out proposed implementation approaches for the 2016 BiOp. FEMA is now entering into the beginning stages for the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) scoping for the Draft Implementation Plan for the BiOp in Oregon. FEMA is now seeking comments for the NEPA scoping and will then analyze whether there are additional alternatives that may need to be considered. The publics comments will help shape the type of impacts to review and disclose in a subsequent draft Environmental Impact Statement. At this time FEMA is awaiting approval to enter the formal NEPA process, which will be initiated with a Notice of Intent published on the Federal Reserve. While this occurs, FEMA is reaching out to several stakeholder groups to solicit initial thoughts and prepare comments to be made during the formal NEPA process. For more information on the NEPA process please visit FEMA's ESA-NFIP Integration webpage at: https://www.fema.gov/about/organization/region-10/oregon/nfip-esa-integration.
Local Government Resources
NFIP General Information
Joining the National Flood Insurance Program
NFIP Minimum Standards
NFIP Technical Bulletins
NFIP for Local Officials, Fifth Edition (2009, FEMA Region 10)
Summary of NFIP for Local Officials (2004, FEMA Region 10)
Oregon Model Floodplain Development Permit
Floodplain Management: Higher Regulatory Standards (2002, FEMA Region 10)
FEMA Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage Desk Reference (2010)
NFIP Community Rating System
Planning for Natural Hazards: Flood Technical Resource Guide (2000)
Oregon NFIP Training Calendar 2021
Oregon Model Flood Hazard Ordinance (New version released October 2020)