What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map?
Floods occur naturally and can happen almost anywhere. They may not even be near a body of water, although river and coastal flooding are two of the most common types. Heavy rains, poor drainage, and even nearby construction projects can put you at risk for flood damage.
The FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is used to determine what buildings are required to have flood insurance when there is a federally backed loan on the property. The FEMA FIRM is the starting point in understanding flood risk in an area. The County has additional data in places that shows a greater risk and regulates these areas according to that risk.
Flood maps are one tool that communities use to know which areas have the highest risk of flooding. FEMA maintains and updates data through flood maps and risk assessments.
*Clicking on this photo will take you to the Muck and South Creek Flood Plan Comparison Mapping tool. Once there, you may use your mouse to zoom in and out and use the search bar in the top right corner to search for specific locations.
Background on the Flood Map Update
Why do the updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) exist and why does this matter to you? FEMA administers a program called the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which was established by Congress in 1968 in response to the rising cost of flood disaster relief. This program helps communities reduce the impacts of flooding through flood insurance and managing land that is susceptible to flooding (known as the floodplain).
Pierce County currently participates in the NFIP. Participation is voluntary — if a community chooses to participate in the NFIP, they enter into a mutual agreement with FEMA. The community is responsible for adopting and enforcing floodplain management regulations, and FEMA, in turn, makes flood insurance available to those who need it.
The Nisqually River was last studied in 1987. Over time, flood risk conditions change, and mapping technology improves. FEMA is working with the state, county, tribes, and local communities to use the best available data and technology to create updated FIRMs. These FIRMs better represent the current flood risk within the Nisqually Watershed.
Understanding Flood Insurance
FEMA’s Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate created several videos to help the public better understand flood risk.
The following four videos help better understand flood insurance and are linked below. The Office of the Flood Insurance Advocate (OFIA) advocates for the fair treatment of policyholders and property owners by:
- Providing education and guidance on all aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
- Identifying trends affecting the public
- Making recommendations for NFIP improvements to FEMA leadership
Visit FEMA's website to learn more about Flood Insurance Advocate.