Have you ever wondered, “Is my home in a flood zone?” If this natural disaster happens infrequently in your area, you may not be too concerned about the prospect of your home being in a flood zone, but if one were to occur, you may regret not having taken any precautions. However, even though you might not be sure about the frequency of natural disasters such as floods occurring in your town or neighborhood, the question “Is my home in a flood zone?” should be one you can easily answer.
Knowing whether a home is located in a flood zone is not just a matter that should concern those that are surrounded by hills or those dwelling near large bodies of water because for a region to be classified as a flood zone, the frequency of storms in a particular region can also increase the chance of it being at risk during floods.
What Is a Flood Zone?
There are certain geographical areas that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has defined to be at different levels of flood risk. The severity and type of flooding homeowners need to worry about vary by location. The risk areas may range from moderate to low-risk areas, high-risk areas, high-risk coastal areas, and undetermined risk areas.
“Is My Home in a Flood Zone?” How You Can Find Out
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If you are in the market to buy a house, the best thing to do before moving into a new home is to ask the residents who have been there a long time and ask about flooding events that have occurred in the area. The realtor of the property also can disclose this information. If you have already moved into a new property and still have no information about the frequency of flooding in the region, then FEMA will be a great place to start.
The FEMA Flood Map Service Center publishes flood maps. You only need to type the address of your home in the system, and the results from this search will offer a map window with a red mark pointing to your address. It will also show the relevant flood zones within that area. Flood zones on the fema.gov website will have labels to them such as Zone A or Zone B. For moderate to low-risk flood zones, the labels on the regions or the surrounding areas will be Zones X, B, and C. However, the high-risk flood zones will be labeled Zones A or V, with Zone V representing high-risk coastal regions.
Other flood zones with letter combinations, such as Zone AH, are used to describe areas that have a 1% annual chance of shallow flooding, usually in the form of a pond and a depth of about 1-3 feet. Zone AO describes a stream or a river flood hazard region with a probability of 1% or higher chance of shallow flooding annually. These areas are known to have an approximate 26% chance of flooding in the lifetime of a 30-year mortgage. Zones VE, V1, and V30 are high-risk coastal areas that can be described as regions that have a potential of about 1% for flooding and another danger that is linked to storm waves.
Zone D are described as undetermined risk areas that can be susceptible to floods. However, no flood analysis has yet been made in the region. The 1% chance that some regions have of experiencing a flood can also be referred to as a 100-year flood plain. It is also possible that other homes in your region are in a flood zone, but not yours.
Other than the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, you can also refer to the FloodTools.com website to get the flood zone status of your home. When buying a home, it’s imperative that the listing agent and the seller fully disclose the flood zone status of the house you want to purchase because mortgage companies require flood insurance coverage for homes located in a flood zone.
How Much Will It Cost You to Have a Flood Insurance?
Other factors can determine the amount of money you will pay for flood insurance, and the federal government sponsors flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Examples of these factors include the building occupancy, the number of floors in the building, flood risk, location of the lowest floor in the building, and the year that the home was built. Based on this, the average cost per year can be $700 or higher for high-risk flood zones.
Do You Need Flood Insurance?
In most cases, you are likely to find that you have a home policy that does not cover losses that result from flood events. Many home policies will cover roof leaks or water damage that may cause flooding in a property, but not flooding that results from a natural event. You will need to buy a flood insurance from an NFIP if your home is located in a high-risk flood zone. Those dwelling in moderate- to low-risk flood zones may choose not to buy this policy, but wouldn’t it be comforting and reassuring to know your home is protected in case a flood occurs??
Is the Home’s Price Influenced by Its Location on a Flood Zone?
Having a house in a flood zone is usually a major influence of the price of a house, and there are extra expenses you will incur by having flood insurance, especially because these policies seem to fluctuate annually. Realtors take this into consideration when pricing a home or rental, and they might list the house slightly lower because of this. Home shoppers also might not prefer a house in a flood zone, so sellers will often lower the home price to attract customers.
What to Do If Your Property Is in a Flood Zone
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Once you are through with your research and you find out that your home is located in a flood zone, the first thing you need to do is to remain calm. Avoiding a state of panic will allow you to think clearly and help you make good decisions going forward. Then you need to contact an agent who can come to your home to conduct a survey that will verify your initial findings. Qualified agents with proper certifications are preferred because they are highly skilled, experienced, and are in the right position to give reliable advice.
These agents should be able to tell you all about the different flood insurance policies that are available and how much they will cost, which will definitely vary based on the flood zone and the year the house was built. However, most builders won’t build on high-risk levels intentionally, and if they do, they take into consideration the depth of the foundation to help make the price of flood policies more affordable.
How You Can Reduce Flood Losses
There are things you can do to help ensure that the losses incurred during floods are minimal because experiencing loss might be unavoidable, so you should take these precautions if your house is in a flood zone. You can apply mitigation strategies such as elevating your electrical panels, water heater, and house to reduce flood losses to help reduce the cost of the flood insurance policy on the house.
You should also move hazardous materials, such as oil, paint, cleaning supplies, to higher locations. A fuel tank that is not anchored well to the ground can cause losses and damage property if it catches fire, so it’s crucial to secure these tanks to the ground or the floor to prevent them from tipping over.
It is also good to keep storm drains and gutters free of debris, and clear downspouts to make sure that the slope of the yard directs water away from the house and property. One-way valves can also be installed to ensure that floodwater does not back-up in drains, as they prevent water from entering the sewer system and causing backflow. Another key preparation is sealing the basement walls with materials that are water resistant or waterproof so that rising water is prevented from seeping through the walls of your home.
This might seem obvious, but it is crucial to store valuables and important documents on upper floors or on higher locations in your home. You should move family photos, insurance policies, or inventory files to attics if possible. Another way to make sure these items are protected is by making copies of them and storing them in a location floods might not affect.
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There are many factors that one should take into consideration when it relates to flood zones and the question “Is my home in a flood zone?” is still one of the most important questions you can ask. These geographical locations vary in their level of flood risk, and before you choose to live in a specific location, you need to consider whether it is in a flood zone, the pricing of the house, the flood insurance available, and the safety of the region.
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