What is a Special Flood Hazard Area?

What is a Special Flood Hazard Area?

Mar 18

One of the biggest concerns of homeowners in certain states is the risk of flooding. Floods can pose a serious threat to life and property. California in particular has experienced several instances of flooding, particularly in 1995 with 28 deaths and $1.8 billion in economic losses. In 1996-1997, a series of subtropical storms hit the state, causing floods in areas not typically associated with flood hazards. More recently, floods in Southern California killed one person, forced thousands of people from their homes, and caused irreparable damage to 18 homes.

In response to these developments, the US Federal Emergency Management Agency mapped out special flood hazard areas (SFHA), which are those that may experience flood or mudflow based on a number of factors, including erosion levels. The areas all have 1-percent-annual-chance (1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year) for a flood event or shallow flooding and marked on a Flood Insurance Rate Map and designated as:

  • Zone A – flood event, Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) shown
  • Zone AE and A1-30 – flood event, BFEs shown
  • Zone AH – shallow flooding (ponding), with average depths of one to three feet
  • Zone AO – shallow flooding (sheet flow), with average depths of one to three feet
  • Zone AR – decertified areas with flood protection systems in the process of being restored
  • Zone A99 – flood event, subject to completion of a Federal flood protection system
  • Zone V – flood event, with the added danger associated with storm-induced waves
  • Zone VE and V1-30 – flood event, with the added danger associated with storm-induced velocity wave action

These designations can change depending on events, so it is important to always be updated on any changes. Home sellers should have no problems with providing a Standardized Natural Hazards Disclosure Statement to potential buyers if they have a natural hazard disclosure report on hand. Order a report from a natural hazard disclosure company online and get it within minutes.

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