A Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Floodplain Management

Contact: Haydn Blaize, 404.463.4935

OVERVIEW

In gaining an understanding of Floodplain Management in Georgia, it is important to be aware of the following terms:

Special Flood Hazard Area: The Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is an area of high flood risk that is inundated by the 1% annual chance flood, sometimes referred to as the 100-year flood or base flood.  The SFHA is often referred to as the Floodplain. These areas are indicated on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that are officially available on FEMA’s Map Service Center: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/

The NFIP: The NFIP was established with the passage of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968. The NFIP is a federal program enabling property owners in participating communities to purchase flood insurance as protection against flood losses, while requiring state and local governments to enforce floodplain management ordinances that aim to reduce future flood damage. More than 22,100 communities in the U.S. participate in the NFIP and more than 5.1 million NFIP policies are in force, providing $1.25 trillion of content and building coverage. Residents and business owners who own property in SFHAs in participating communities are required to purchase flood insurance if they have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender. Residents and business owners with a mortgage on a building outside high-risk areas can also purchase flood insurance and may be eligible for lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies.

Participation in the NFIP is voluntary. In Georgia, there are 557 participating communities including all of the State’s 159 counties. There are 87 communities that are not participating. A community that does not participate in the NFIP faces the following challenges:

  1. Flood insurance will not be available
  2. No Federal grants or loans for the acquisition or construction of buildings may be made in identified flood hazard areas
  3. No Federal disaster assistance may be provided to repair insurable buildings located in identified flood hazard areas
  4. No Federal mortgage insurance or loan guarantees may be provided in identified flood hazard areas

On August 16, 1999, the State of Georgia entered into a Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP) agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Region IV. With FEMA Grant Funds, this agreement provides that the State of Georgia assumes responsibility for the development and updating of the flood hazard maps (known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs) on a countywide-basis for all 159 counties in the State.

Priority is usually afforded to communities with a history of flooding, have outdated maps, or experienced or anticipate major development activity that may alter the flood risk in populated areas.  The maps and products are used by the communities to administer their floodplain management ordinances. The Floodplain Unit also receives FEMA funding to provide community outreach and assistance through a structured a community assistance program. The Floodplain unit also maintains a website, www.georgiadfirm.com that provides technical and outreach information for community officials and the public, including a “look up” tool that allows the public to enter their address and determine their flood risk.

Flood Damage Prevention Ordinances

Georgia Floodplain Management Office recommends these three applicable model Flood Damage Prevention Ordinances for communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Each ordinance complies with FEMA's floodplain management regulations as described in 44 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Section 60.3.

Other Floodplain Management Information