The flood hazard zones for the City of Boston will be changing on March 16, 2016. We want to make sure that people have the best information available for how to best protect themselves and their property against the risk of flooding. Our communities should also know why these changes are happening, and the resources available for people who are affected by the new flood maps.
This post is part of a series on the new FEMA Flood Maps, which go into effect March 16, 2016. To learn more about the changes, visit the FEMA Flood Maps Service Center, visit the City of Boston’s Flood Hazard Areas webpage, or attend the community open house event hosted by FEMA and the City of Boston on January 12th, 2016.
The flood hazard zones for the City of Boston are changing – what does this mean for you? The first thing you should do is find out what flood hazard zone you will be in on March 16, 2016.
FEMA provides an online guide on their website to learn how to read their flood maps: https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/7984. There is also a tutorial here: https://www.fema.gov/media/fhm/firm/ot_firm.htm.
FEMA also provides phone assistance to help read the maps – call the FEMA Map Specialist hotline at 877-336-2627 (877-FEMA-MAP).
If you would rather get help from government staff in-person, you can attend the community open house event hosted by FEMA and the City of Boston on January 12th, 2016. Find out more information here: bit.ly/BOSfloodmaps
If you want to try reading the maps on your own, below is our step-by-step guide for how to read the updated maps for Boston (please note that our guide contains Boston specific information).
How to Read the Updated FIRMs for City of Boston
Select your area from a series of drop-down menus on the left side:
Jurisdiction – Massachusetts
County – Suffolk
Community – Boston, City of
3. Hit the blue ‘Search’ button
4. Results will be posted below. You will be prompted to select a type of product; select “Pending Product” and “FIRM Panels” as a sub selection of Pending Product (see below).
5. Select the first product listed by clicking the View button (on the right): 25025CIND0B . This is the map that will tell you your panel number.
6. The map will open in a new window (don’t close the window with the list of maps). Find the location of your building on the map using landmarks. By clicking on the map, the window will zoom in closer to show more detail. Use the buttons on the left to help navigate if you need to zoom out. The panel number, which you will need next, is the large number written across in the middle of the box. Write it down.
7. Navigate back to the page with the Pending Product list of search results. Open the map of your panel number (Product ID) from that list by clicking the View button.
8. Using knowledge of the general location and landmarks, you should be able to find the specific location of your building. Zoom in by clicking on the map, and use the buttons on the left side to help with navigation.
9. Use the legend to determine if your property is an a Special Flood Hazard Area. Here is a copy of the legend. Read this FEMA resource for what each zone means here: http://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/20130726-1550-20490-1950/ot_firm.pdf.
10. Use the flood zone information to determine your risk. If you are located in any A or V zone, you are in a Special Flood Hazard Area and must get flood insurance if you have a federally backed mortgage or loan. If you’re unsure if you are required to have flood insurance, contact your bank or insurance agent for assistance. If you own your home, you are still encouraged to get flood insurance, as you are still at risk and it could affect the future sale of your home.
If you think your future official flood hazard designation will change on March 16, 2016, it is a good idea to confirm your building’s current zone. Repeat the above process, but with these changes:
In Step 4.) instead of selecting “Pending Product”, select “Effective Products”.
In Step 5.) View the full city map index as Product ID 25025CIND0A.
All other steps are the same.