News Flash

Planning & Public Works

Posted on: May 5, 2022

Pierce County seeking public comments on updated Nisqually Watershed flood maps

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 individuals and communities better understand flood risks so they can make more informed decisions about how to protect themselves from losses and damage.

These new maps are now available on the Pierce County website at

The County is asking for help from the public in reviewing these maps for any possible errors and other comments of concerns. The comment period will last 90 days from May 5 to Aug. 3, 2022.

These flood insurance rate maps, last updated in 1987, are drawn based on national engineering standards that look at the flow of the river and geometry of the valley.

Following the 1996 Nisqually River Flood, it became clear that the current FEMA maps grossly underestimated the flood risks on the Nisqually River as several homes outside of the mapped floodplain were damaged.

This mapping effort used the latest hydrology and survey information to determine the areas that will be flooded in the 1%-annual-chance flood. This is also known as a 100-year flood, the base flood or the Special Flood Hazard Areas.

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 and the lack of private flood insurance. This program is aimed at protecting lives and property and stipulates how individuals and communities can reduce the impacts of flooding through flood insurance and land use management.

FEMA requires flood insurance if you have a federally backed loan and the structure is in an area identified as a high-risk floodplain or Special Flood Hazard Area.

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Akiko Oda, Pierce County public information specialist
[email protected] 

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