New PRELIMINARY Coastal Flood Maps
Coastal Flood Maps, otherwise known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are used to determine the minimum elevation needed for construction to reduce the chances of flooding, as well as construction methods required in certain zones.
On December 27, 2019, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released new PRELIMINARY coastal flood maps to Monroe County staff. These maps, after a multi-year study of Monroe County’s coastal flood risks and an extensive vetting process, will eventually replace the current flood maps which are based on 30-plus-year-old studies.
While FEMA has emphasized that these are only PRELIMINARY maps, Monroe County wants to ensure all residents and business owners are aware of the potential for a change in flood risk for their property so that they can be more proactive in reducing their flood risk.
VIEW PRELIMINARY COASTAL MAPS
- FEMA FIRM PRELIMINARY Mapping tool. (NOTE: Use in Chrome Browser for optimum user experience) Click in the FIRM Panel section where the property is located to view the popup containing a link to the Draft Map (PDF) or search by property address in the top left-hand corner.
- FEMA PRELIMINARY Map Service Center - Select State (FL), County (Monroe County) to get to web page listing various area maps. Warning maps on the site are very large and may take several minutes to open/download.
IMPORTANT: These maps don’t show an additional difference in elevation due to a change in mapping standards between the old and new proposed flood maps (datum NGVD29-> NAVD88). This means that all NGVD29 elevations (e.g., BFE, Lowest Floor Elevation) need to be converted to NAVD88. While there is no set conversion factor, as it varies throughout Monroe County, on average there is -1.5 foot conversion. To account for this change, ON AVERAGE you should add +1.5 foot to any apparent increase. For example, if your building was in an AE-8 flood zone and is still shown in an AE-8 zone, then it actually experienced an increase of 1.5 feet. Another example, if your building was in an AE-6 flood zone and is proposed to be in an AE-9 zone, the increase appears to be three-feet. However, the actual increase would be 4.5 feet.
To convert one vertical datum to another, visit the ArcGIS SFWMD Elevation Conversion: NGVD29 to NAVD88 mapping tool. For more information on vertical datums, read FEMA’s fact sheet at www.FEMA.gov/Media-Library/Assets/Documents/11535.
Previous X-Zone Buildings
Structures removed from the X-zones didn’t previously have a flood level associated with them, so this mapping standard difference wouldn’t be relevant.
VIEW CURRENT FLOOD MAPS
Visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center and search by property address.
FLOOD RISK AND NEW BUILDING
To emphasize that flood risks are changing and to make sure property owners understand this is coming, Monroe County Building Department will be requiring owner’s to sign a form with permits that acknowledge the issuance of these new PRELIMINARY coastal flood maps and the fact that these maps may indicate a future change to the required elevation of a building currently being permitted.
This is intended to help homeowners understand that what they might be proposing to build today, under the existing flood maps, could become non-conforming after the maps are changed, thereby making their flood risk and insurance costs greater. Owners should think about designing their improvements to meet the proposed PRELIMINARY maps to assure they are addressing potential future risk.
The County has hired a consultant to analyze how flood risks are changing in Unincorporated Monroe County based on the provided studies using updated information and the best available science and technology. The technical consultant will also be reviewing the maps and modeling conducted by FEMA and is prepared to appeal any of the maps that do not appear to be correct.
FEMA MAP REVIEW PROCESS
With the issuance of PRELIMINARY maps, the public will have an opportunity to comment officially through upcoming Community meetings beginning the week of January 27, 2020.
Formal public comments or appeals of the preliminary maps can then be provided to FEMA by local governments like the County, or the municipalities.
Once FEMA completes the review of all comments and appeals, they will publish the final FIRMs. The final FIRMs will most likely become effective sometime in 2021-2022.
When that happens, the county will formally adopt the maps by ordinance and the maps will be used when reviewing permits and the final maps will establish what a finished floor elevation needs to be and determine building and site design requirements to reduce future risk of flooding. New lender requirements may go into effect, flood insurance requirements, as well as changes in flood insurance rates as result of map changes.
Any community or individual property owner can appeal proposed changes to flood hazard information or comment on other information included on the preliminary flood hazard maps, also known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and the preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report.
Per FEMA, an appeal must be based on data and documentation showing the proposed flood hazard information shown on the preliminary FIRM or in the FIS report is scientifically or technically incorrect. Appellants need to demonstrate better methodologies, assumptions or data exists and provide alternative analyses that incorporate those methodologies, assumptions, or data if appropriate. The results must show an overall change in the flood hazard information shown on the preliminary FIRM and/or in the FIS report.
Formal appeals of the Preliminary Maps to areas in Unincorporated Monroe County must be submitted to FEMA through Monroe County. An Appeal application required for submittal with all proposed Appeals to the Preliminary Flood Maps may be downloaded when available HERE. These Appeals will have a $170 application fee and a $5,000 deposit required to be submitted as part of the application. The $5,000 deposit will be held in escrow and the money from this deposit will be used on an as-required basis by the County’s consultant in marshaling the individual appeal. At the conclusion of the appeal, any remainder of the deposit will be returned to the Applicant.
Additional information regarding FEMA Appeals to Preliminary FIRMS and the Appeals process may be found at:
The following diagram shows the tentative process timeline provided by FEMA for the Draft Maps, Preliminary Maps, and Final Maps:
FOR MORE INFORMATION
For more information about the FEMA mapping process, email FloodMaps@MonroeCounty-FL.gov or call 305-453-8759.
To learn more about flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent or visit FloodSmart.gov.