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February 22, 2013

What are Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps from FEMA?

After Hurricane Sandy, those who want to rebuild should be sure to know their risk of flooding. Our office has been receiving questions about new Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

According to FEMA’s web site, “Advisory maps show, based on the best available information, how high structures should be elevated to minimize damage from future flood events. The maps show that portions of communities are in new flood zones, which may impact insurance rates and building practices… Communities are encouraged to adopt advisory base flood elevation maps to reduce future flood risk and to decrease the cost of flood insurance.  Property owners should work with local building officials to fully understand all requirements – including advisory maps – to rebuild stronger, safer and smarter.”1

While we utilize the most current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) produced by FEMA to perform our certified flood hazard searches, the ABFE maps reflect the latest studies done by FEMA.  ABFE maps do not impact the current mandatory purchase requirement for flood insurance.  However, it is important for homeowners to be aware of the ABFE maps and how their property may be affected. In many areas, the ABFE maps may indicate an elevated flood risk over previous maps and can represent a serious issue to those rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. ABFE maps have been published for Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Cape May, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean and Union Counties.

Why publish ABFE maps? Since it may take a significant time for these studies to be published as legally adopted FIRM maps, FEMA saw the need to release more current information now so that communities and homeowners would have guidance to safely rebuild and to mitigate the high cost of flood insurance.

It is important for homeowners to work with their community officials, many of whom will not only adopt the standards set forth in the ABFE maps but may actually set forth even more stringent building specifications.   A detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions about ABFE maps are posted at http://www.region2coastal.com/faqs/advisory-bfe-faq or feel free to call our office with questions.

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 1 http://www.fema.gov/news-release/2013/01/05/advisory-flood-elevation-maps-web

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 The information provided is for informative purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a legal opinion.  For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Carl Weinberger

Manager, Geographic Services

 Carl W blog

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