320 Map Information Service
400 Mapping and Regulations

320
Map Information Service

This activity includes giving map information to those who ask for it: in person, over the phone, through email, or through a website. Elevation Certificates can help estimate the base flood elevation (BFE) for an inquirer.

322.a
Basic FIRM information (MI1)

Are you providing Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) information to your community?

Level of effort = low

Overview

This element involves making basic Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) information available to those who request it. This can be done in person, over the phone, through email, or through a website. Due to the way the activity is structured, this element is required in order to get credit for all of the other elements in Activity 320.

The information that your community must provide using your Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) can be thought of as all of the information needed to write a flood insurance policy. This includes:

  • Whether or not a property is located in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)
  • The community number
  • The panel number and suffix
  • The date of the Flood Insurance Rate Map’s (FIRM’s) index
  • The Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) zone
  • The base flood elevation
  • Other elevation data used in the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)

As part of this element, your community should notify property owners if they are located in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and, if so, inform them that flood insurance is required for their property. You should also respond directly to inquirers requesting Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) information and respond to requests in a timely manner. The Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) should be updated annually and its availability should be publicized as a community service.

Considerations

As most communities have copies of their Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), providing FIRM information is relatively low effort. However, some communities choose to put this information online in a digital format, which can require GIS and web development expertise. You can provide your community's FIRM map on your Flood Protection Website (WEB) to recieve credit. If you do this, you'll need to also include instructions and a telephone number for how your residents can reach out for map assistance to recieve credit. See Documentation for more info.

The time commitment for this element includes the staff time required to explain basic Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) information to inquirers (usually community members) as well as time spent on digital publishing. Communities can charge a fee for this service in order to offset costs. One thing to take into account is that fulfillment of this element is required in order for communities to get credit for the other elements in this activity (320).

Documentation

To document this element, you must:

  • Publicize the map service annually. This is most typically done through one of the following:

    • A utility bill
    • A mailing to lenders, insurance agents, and real estate agents; and/or
    • An annual outreach project
  • Make sure that, through whatever publicity method is chosen, the following criteria are met:

    • All map services are described in full
    • Map services are publicized (at least) annually
    • Access to the services is clearly described
    • A telephone number is provided for additional information requests
  • Update the maps at least annually, to include Letters of Map Amendment (LOMAs) and Letters of Map Revision (LOMRs)
  • Maintain all copies of Flood Insurance Maps (FIRMs) since 1999
  • Keep a log of map service communications, including:

    • Date of information request
    • Address for which information is requested
    • Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) zone
    • Flood insurance information provided

Credit Calculation

Max: 30

Your community can receive credit for providing all of the information found on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) needed to write an insurance policy. This is evaluated through the documentation submitted to your CRS Specialist. There is no impact adjustment for this element.

322.b
Additional FIRM information (MI2)

If your community is already providing basic public information about your Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), you can receive additional credits for providing more detailed data.

Level of effort = low

Overview

This element builds on 322.a (MI1) and involves providing public information from the FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) beyond that which is needed for insurance policy writing. This includes information on coastal barriers, floodways, and/or wave action. You should also provide information to inquirers about whether or not a property is located in an area protected by the Coastal Barrier Resources System, near the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA), and/or in a floodway. Since it supplements the work done for 322.a (MI1), communities getting credit for 322.b. (MI2) must also fulfill the requirements of 322.a (MI1).

Considerations

Like 322.a (MI1), providing information about the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is low-effort as most communities already have copies of these maps. If your community chooses to digitize your maps, the level of effort for this element can increase. The time commitment for this element largely consists of the time it takes to field inquiries and answer questions about the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Again, one option to address costs is to charge a fee for this service.

Documentation

To correctly document this element, you must:

  • Complete all of the documentation required for 322.a (MI1)
  • Provide copies of the maps used to provide 322.b. (MI2) information
  • Keep a log of inquiries and interactions, including:

    • Date of interaction
    • Address of information request
    • Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) zone
    • Flood information provided

Credit Calculation

Max: 20

There is no credit provided if the community does not have any of the special areas listed above. Additionally, there is no impact adjustment for this element.

322.c
Other flood problems not shown on the FIRM (MI3)

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) only account for a narrow range of flood hazards. This element allows communities to get credit for additional information that they are providing to community members about flooding in their area.

Level of effort = moderate

Overview

This element builds on both 322.a (MI1) and 322.b (MI2). While the first two mapping elements address information on a community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), this element extends beyond the FIRM. To get credit points for this element, your community must first complete all of the requirements for 322.a (MI1). You should also provide map information about flood hazards not shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) such as: areas susceptible to flooding due to sea level rise, local drainage issues, areas regulated by watershed, and areas that can be inundated by a failed levee or dam. The exact information that you provide is location dependent.

Considerations

This element involves providing public information about flooding beyond what is included in Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Depending on the amount of data you've already collected and the specifics of your geography, this could take more time and require more specialized expertise than 322.a. (MI1) and 322.b. (MI2).

Documentation

To fully document this element, communities must:

  • Complete all of the documentation included in 322.a (MI1)
  • Provide the maps used to impart the information required in this element
  • Keep a log of the service communication, including:

    • Date of interaction or inquiry
    • Address of property for which information is requested
    • Information provided

Credit Calculation

Max:20

For credit, you must provide information on flood hazards not included on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). There is no impact adjustment for this element.

322.d
Flood depth data (MI4)

Flood depth data can be another useful metric by which to measure risk. If your community possesses this information, it can receive credits for making it publicly available.

Level of effort = moderate

Overview

This element involves providing community map information on flood depth. To receive full credits, you can either convey flood depth data using a map or provide inquirers with data comparing potential flood elevations to the ground elevations of existing properties. Ground elevation can be determined using Elevation Certificates (ECs). 322.a. (MI1) is a prerequisite for this element.

Considerations

This element requires some mapping expertise and, like 322.c. (MI3), requires data sources beyond the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).

Documentation

Like the other elements in 320, this element requires that your community must:

  • Complete all of the documentation included in 322.a. (MI1)
  • Provide the maps used to impart the information required by the element
  • Keep a log of the service, including:

    • Date of the inquiry
    • Address inquired about
    • Information provided

Credit Calculation

Max: 30

There is no impact adjustment for this element.

322.e
Special flood-related hazards (MI5)

Do you have information about special flood-related hazards in your community that can be made publicly available?

Level of effort = moderate

Overview

For this element, you must provide map information regarding special flood-related hazards in your community. In order to receive credit points for this element, you must complete all of the requirements for 322.a. (MI1) first.

The special flood-related hazard data provided to fulfill this element could include information about flow paths, closed basin lakes, ice jams, land subsidence, mudflow hazards, coastal erosion, tsunamis, and Coastal A Zones (as applicable). You should inform inquirers of regulations and precautions relevant to each hazard. It’s important to note that, while mapping is required for this credit, regulation is not.

Considerations

This element requires some mapping/data management expertise.

Documentation

Like the other elements in 320, this element requires that communities must:

  • Complete all of the documentation included in 322.a. (MI1)
  • Provide the maps used to impart the information required by the element
  • Keep a log of the service, including:

    • Date of the inquiry
    • Address inquired about
    • Information provided

Credit Calculation

Max: 20

For credit, special flood-related hazard areas must be mapped but do not have to be regulated. There is no impact adjustment for this element.

322.f
Historical flood information (MI6)

Historic flooding data can be useful for evaluating property risk. Your community can receive credits for making this type of information accessible to the public.

Level of effort = moderate

Overview

For this element, your community must provide information about historical flooding to the public. This information includes time and location of past floods, historic flood levels or high water marks, and/or details about repetitive loss areas. FEMA’s claims data and past flooding data from Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMPs) can be compiled to create this dataset. Like other 320 elements, 322.a. (MI1) must first be completed to receive these credit points.

Considerations

Much of the data for this element can be acquired from FEMA but this element requires some mapping/data management expertise. The data also must be updated on an ongoing basis to remain relevant.

Documentation

Like the other elements in 320, this element requires that communities must:

  • Complete all of the documentation included in 322.a. (MI1)
  • Provide the maps used to impart the information required by the element
  • Keep a log of the service, including:

    • Date of the inquiry
    • Address inquired about
    • Information provided

Credit Calculation

Max: 20

There is no impact adjustment for this element.

322.g
Natural floodplain functions (MI7)

If your community contains wetlands, critical habitats, conservation areas or open space areas, providing information about them to the public can get you credits.

Level of effort = moderate

Overview

Your community can receive credit for providing map information that pertains to protecting natural floodplain functions to the public. This includes information about areas in the National Wetlands Inventory, critical habitats identified by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, areas identified by regions or states as conservation areas, open space areas (Activity 420), and/or areas in a natural floodplain functions plan (Activity 510). Completion of 322.a. (MI1) is a prerequisite for this element.

Considerations

This element requires some mapping and data management expertise. Depending on the geographic make-up of your community, this element may include synthesizing a lot of data.

Documentation

Like the other elements in 320, this element requires that communities must:

  • Complete all of the documentation included in 322.a. (MI1)
  • Provide the maps used to impart the information required by the element
  • Keep a log of the service, including:

    • Date of the inquiry
    • Address inquired about
    • Information provided

Credit Calculation

Max: 20

There is no impact adjustment for this element.

This CRS guide was produced by CRS professionals and Certified Floodplain Managers to help you navigate the Community Rating System. It is not meant to replace FEMA's official CRS Coordinator's Manual, nor should it supersede the instructions given by your ISO/CRS Specialist.

For additional resources, visit https://crsresources.org/ .