Bagett, Griffith & Blackman

Professional Land Surveyors

FEMA Flood Elevation Certificates

If you live in a community that participates in the National Floodplain Insurance Program (NFIP), certain areas are at higher risk of flooding due to their proximity to bodies of water. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which manages the NFIP, calls these areas floodplains. Buildings in floodplains may be required to carry flood insurance to comply with the NFIP.

To check to see if your house falls in a flood zone, refer to the FEMA Map Service Center, where you can print out a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for your property.

Your house may fall in one of several different flood zones, each of which requires a different process to complete the elevation certificate.  Zones can be categorized into three different areas:

fema base flood elevation

Zone is characterized by showing lines indicating the approximate elevation values of the BFE.

Zones A1-A30/AE

These are areas where a Base Flood Elevation (BFE) has been determined.  The BFE is the elevation (height above sea level) at which FEMA has determined there is a 1% chance of rising waters reaching in any given year (100-year flood event).  To get the exact Base Flood Elevation for your house, contact the flood plain manager for your community.

If your house falls in one of these zones, you may be required to get an elevation certificate.  The Elevation Certificate is a FEMA form showing where certain features of your house fall in relationship to the BFE.  This is a means by which FEMA measures flood risk at your house and is used for rating flood insurance.

Completion of an Elevation Certificate in one of these zones requires that Section C of the Elevation Certificate be completed by a certified surveyor, engineer or architect.

femo zone with depth area

Zone is characterized by showing a “Depth” value.

Zone A0

This is a sheet flooding zone where flood risk is measured from the ground surrounding the house.  To be compliant with the National Flood Insurance Program, the finish floor of the house and all the machinery servicing the house must be higher than the given depth on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). The depth is measured from the ground adjacent to the house.

For completion of an Elevation Certificate in this zone, Section E of the Elevation Certificate needs to be filled out instead of Section C.  Completion of Section E can be completed by the landowner or agent of the landowner, and does not require a surveyor or engineer.

fema zone a undetermined

Zone is characterized by showing NO elevation or depth values.

Zone A (undertermined BFE)

The Zone A is an area where FEMA has determined there is a significant risk of flooding, but has not compiled enough hydrologic data to determine the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).  These are notoriously difficult areas to work in. Determining the BFE often requires acquiring topographic data and running hydraulic models, which can be a time consuming process. If you have property in this zone, time to completion of an Elevation Certificate can be exceed a couple of months.

Other useful links:

“Help! My lender sent me a 45-day notice demanding that I purchase flood insurance.” (PDF), a brochure from Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development

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Bagett, Griffith & Blackman
2006 Adams Avenue
La Grande, OR 97850
541-963-6092 Send email

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