Welcome to our new website! Please give us feedback.

FEMA FAQs and messages

Below you will find a listing of commonly asked questions and their answers. If you don't find your question listed, Marin County can provide one-on-one flood information at the Permit Counter located in the Marin County Civic Center, Room 308.  There are Land Development Engineers available to answer questions about flood maps, flood zones, base flood elevations (BFE), elevation certificates and to determine whether your property is located in a Special Flood hazard Area (SFHA).

FAQs

If your home is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) you must build your home so that the finished flood elevation is at least one (1) foot above the FEMA Base Flood Elevation (BFE). FEMA updates their maps and BFE regularly so it can be assumed that the BFE for your structure will change over time. It may be prudent to build, remodel, or elevate your home more than one foot above the BFE to protect yourself, your family, and your possessions.

It depends on the reason for the change in the flood zone. If a property owner thinks their property has been inadvertently mapped in a Special Flood Hazard Area or is now out of the flood zone due to elevating the structure or another reason, they may submit a request to FEMA for a Letter of Map Change  or Amendment (LOMA). The requirements of the LOMA depend upon the reason for the requested change in flood zone and may require the applicant to hire a licensed surveyor or engineer. For more details, visit https://www.fema.gov/flood-maps.

The Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is defined by FEMA as the area that will be inundated by the flood event having a 1-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year (sometimes called the “100-year” flood). Flood-hazard maps or flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs) have been created by FEMA to show the flooding risk for your community, which help determine the cost of flood insurance. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium. Properties in the SFHA may be subject to the mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). A good source of flood information is the Homeowner FAQs. You can also contact the Land Development Division of the Department of Public Works for FEMA flood zone information. They can be reached by phone at 415-473-3755, by email, or in person in Room 308 at the Marin County Civic Center.

You can contact the Land Development Division of the Department of Public Works for FEMA flood zone information. They can be reached by phone at (415) 473-3755, by email to the Department of Public Works Land Development Engineer, or in person in Room 308 at the Marin County Civic Center.

Elevation Certificates can only be completed by a licensed land surveyor, engineer, or architect who is licensed by the State to perform such functions. Copies of completed elevation certificates that have been submitted to the County are available at the Land Development office in Room 308 at the Marin County Civic Center.

To find a licensed professional land surveyor in your area, please go to the California Land Surveyors Association website

Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. It is important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. Find out more about the NFIP and how it can help you protect yourself by visiting Floodsmart.gov.

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. A flood is a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow. Many conditions can result in a flood: hurricanes , overtopped levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and rapid accumulation of rainfall.

Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk isn’t just based on history, it’s also based on a number of factors: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development.

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flooding can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or larger, affecting entire river basins and multiple states. However, all floods are not alike. Some floods develop slowly, sometimes over a period of days and weeks. But other kinds of flooding known as flash floods can develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods often have a dangerous wall of roaring water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and can sweep away most things in its path. Overland flooding occurs outside a defined river or stream, such as when a levee is breached, but still can be destructive. Flooding can also occur when a dam breaks, producing effects similar to flash floods. Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard.

Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live, but especially if you live in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds, or low-lying area that may appear harmless in dry weather can flood. Every state is at risk from this hazard.

For more information, see FEMA’s flood web page.

Flood protection messages

Message 1: Your property may be subject to flooding. Flooding can happen anytime, anywhere, and everyone lives in a flood zone. FEMA has new flood insurance maps, and it is important to know if you live in a Special Flood Hazard Area. Here are some resources to help:

Visit Marin County Civic Center, Room 308 and see our trained professionals in Land Development.

Marin Map

 FloodSmart.gov

 www.marinwatersheds.org

Message 1: Flood insurance is mandatory if your property is in a Special Flood Hazard area and you have a federally backed loan. 

Check Marin Map or visit the Marin County Civic Center, Room 308 and talk to our trained professionals in Land Development to see if your property is in a Special Flood Hazard area. Then visit FloodSmart.gov for insurance options. 

Message 2: Homeowners should buy flood insurance for homes and contents. 

Take advantage of a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy. Visit FloodSmart.gov. 

Message 3: Renters should buy flood insurance for their contents. 

Take advantage of a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy. Visit FloodSmart.gov. 

Message 4: Your homeowners insurance does not cover floods. 

Just a few inches of water from a flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Most homeowners insurance does not cover ‘rising waters’ or flooding. Purchasing flood insurance is the best way to protect yourself from devastating financial loss. FloodSmart.gov. 

Message 5: Flood insurance is easy to get. 

Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters. Costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers and the property’s flood risk. FloodSmart.gov. 

Message 1: Turn around, don’t drown 

Each year, more deaths occur due to flooding than from any other severe weather related hazard. The Centers for Disease Control report that over half of all flood-related drownings occur when a vehicle is driven into hazardous flood water.  Visit  Turn Around Don’t Drown to learn more. 

Message 2: Know the flood warning signals 

Learn about the Marin County Office of Emergency Services Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS). Register at http://www.alertmarin.org to get the emergency call, text and email. 

Message 3: Designate a place where your family can rendezvous after an evacuation order is issued. 

Message 4: Designate an out-of-state contact person to call when an emergency arises. 

Let them know that you are safe and ask them to pass that information on to other family members and friends. 

Message 5: Know your evacuation route. 

Check in with Marin County Sheriff during an emergency to discover the evacuation route available to you. 

Message 6: Teach your children about flooding. 

Introduce your kids to Weather Whiz Kids for some weather information for kids. 

Message 7: Be sure you are registered to get the emergency call, text or email. 

Emergency officials use the Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS) to deliver incident-specific information or potentially life-saving instruction to precise geographic areas affected. To learn more visit Marin County Sheriff. 

Message 8: Does your family have an emergency plan? 

Make a disaster preparedness plan. Visit Red Cross, Home Family Plan. Create your own family emergency plan. Visit Family Emergency Plan. 

Message 9: What do you need in your survival kit? 

Visit Red Cross – Get a Survival Kit 

Message 1: Reduce the impact of flooding; elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel above the flood level.

Visit the Marin County Civic Center, Room 308 and see our trained professionals in Land Development.

Message 2: Keep debris and trash out of streams and ditches.

Message 3:  Keep gutters clear of leaves and debris.

Message 1: Get a permit before you build.

Visit the Public Permit Counter Office at the Marin County Civic Center, Room 308. For online information, visit the Community Development Agency Planning Applications and Permits website.

Message 2: Know the substantial damage rules.

For substantially damaged guidelines see NFIP Substantial Improvement/Substantial Damage: Requirements and Definitions.

Message 3: Know the requirement for building in the floodplain.

Check out the Marin County Code 23.09 on Floodplain Management.

Message 1: Don’t dump in the storm drains; they drain to the bay.

Learn how to protect our bay. Visit the MCSTOPPP website.

Message 2: Use appropriate erosion and sediment control measures and keep them in good working order.

Learn about Marin County’s erosion and sediment control program. Visit the MCSTOPPP website for information.

Close window