In partnership with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Pierce County is updating the flood insurance rate maps along the Nisqually River.

These maps are used by FEMA to show where flood insurance is required and by the County to identify where floodplain regulations are applied. The maps also help communities better understand flood risks so they can make more informed decisions about how to protect themselves from losses and damage. 

Review Nisqually Watershed Flood Maps
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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.


Dennis Dixon
Floodplain Engineer
(253) 798-3696
[email protected]

Additional Resources

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.

Learn more about the flood map update by clicking on the image below: 

Nisqually Story Map Square II Opens in new window

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.

FEMA’s Flood Insurance Advocate Explains Flood Risk

FEMA’s Flood Insurance Advocate Explains NFIP Basements

FEMA’s Flood Insurance Advocate Explains Flood Claims

FEMA’s Flood Insurance Advocate Explains When Flood Insurance is Required