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MassiveCert Flood Zones for First Street Foundation

MassiveCert's 142 million FEMA flood zones were used by First Street Foundation to compare the organizations' flood risk perspective. Both models are beneficial and help move the flood risk conversation forward. But, the models are created for different purposes because the concept of a single definitive floodplain is a fallacy.

MassiveCert Press Release re: 142 million

MassiveCert aims to make every American aware of their own personal flood risk so they can make informed decisions. Through a partnership with First Street Foundation, we released FEMA flood zone date for 142 million properties nationwide. 

Risk, FEMA Flood Zones, and Insurance Premiums

This article is written to aid property owners regarding their flood risk. Floodplain Managers, flood insurance professionals, surveyors, etc. may note that this information is high-level and not every variable is covered. Even so, it is hoped this information helps those not directly involved in the industry understand the basic terms and how they relate to flood risk and flood insurance rates.

Will it Flood? It's all about Elevation!

Of course, the best way to keep a home from flooding is to build it well outside of a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). But we know, about 25% of flood claims come from properties not in these high-risk zones. Further, the risk of flooding is obviously vastly different between properties considered to be in low-risk areas when one is a few inches above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) and the other is many feet above that imaginary line (the elevation at which a hydrology study predicts 1% chance of flooding in any given year). What’s more, many individuals have to consider properties in SFHAs. Cities like New Orleans, Houston, and Charleston to name a few, don’t give home buyers and businesses many choices other than high risk areas.

Why Your BFE is Wrong

The Base Flood Elevation (BFE) represents the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) 1% Annual Chance Floodplain (aka. 100-year flood). Generally speaking, the nearer the structure’s elevation is to the BFE the greater the risk, and for structure elevations below the BFE, the further the structure’s elevation is to the BFE, the more flood water would be expected to inundate the structure during a flood event causing greater damage, therefore higher insurance premiums.

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