1. WHAT IS A FLOOD
HAZARD MAP OR FIRM?
Flood hazard maps, officially known as Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or "FIRMs,"
show the flood risk to your home or business as determined by FEMA.
2. What is
the FEMA Map Modernization Program?
part of the National Flood Insurance Program, the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) develops
Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) to identify areas at risk of flooding and
to determine flood insurance rates. The Map Modernization Program is an
effort by FEMA to update old FIRMs nationwide. FEMA has now updated the
FIRMs for San Joaquin County and all the Cities in the County.
3. WHEN DID THE NEW MAPS
The new FIRMs became effective and regulatory on
October 16, 2009.
WILL THERE BE MORE CHANGES TO THE FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAPS?
Yes, more map changes are expected within the next two years. The October
16, 2009 FIRMs have some land areas that are marked as "PROTECTED...BY A
LEVEE SYSTEM THAT HAS BEEN PROVISIONALLY ACCREDITED..." Some of the levees
will become accredited levees, others might lose accreditation by FEMA. All
or part of the land behind de-accredited levees will then be shown on a new
map as Special Flood Hazard Area. Your Floodplain Administrator will notify
you before the maps change. For more information on the Provisionally
Accredited Levee (PAL) Agreements, please refer to the "PAL FAQs" at
5. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE
FOR THE MAPS?
The FIRMs are FEMA’s maps, used to administer the National Flood Insurance
Program. In the process of creating the updated maps, FEMA consulted with
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and State and local agencies
regarding levee inspections and adequacy. Local agencies submitted comments
and suggested corrections to the proposed maps.
6. WHY DID
SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY GET NEW FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAPS?
San Joaquin County’s
FIRMs were out of date. Some formerly rural areas were
never mapped in detail, and other areas had not been re-mapped in more than
29 years. Over time, water flow, levee conditions, and drainage patterns
change due to erosion, land use, and natural forces. The likelihood of
flooding in certain areas changes along with these factors.
DID WE HAVE SERIOUS FLOODING IN THIS AREA?
San Joaquin County
has experienced major flooding several times during the 20th
Century. The City of Stockton experienced flooding in 1955 and 1958.
McDonald Island flooded in 1982, when the levee failed. 1983 saw area wide
local flooding from heavy rains, with levee failures in the Delta and along
the San Joaquin River. In 1986, flooding affected Delta islands and
the town of Thornton following a levee break. There was a near "100-year"
storm event during the winter of 1997, which caused flooding in the Delta
and along the San Joaquin and Stanislaus Rivers including areas between
Manteca and Tracy. The most recent levee break occurred in 2004, at Jones
Tract west of Stockton.
8. WHAT IS MY RISK? IS
MY FAMILY SAFE?
Floods are the most likely natural disaster to occur in our area. Your
local government is doing its best to make wise investments in flood
protection to safeguard lives and property. Still, just as people who live
in earthquake or wildfire-prone areas should have a plan in case of
emergency, all San Joaquin County residents should know their flood risk and
have an emergency plan. The Office of Emergency Services website provides
guidance on disaster preparedness to protect your family in case of
emergency, including a flood:
www.sjgov.org/oes/. To learn how to prepare your family for an
www.plan2survive.org, or call
the Office of Emergency Services at (209) 953-6200.
9. WHAT IS A FLOODPLAIN?
A floodplain is the part of the land where water collects, pools, and flows
during the course of natural high-water events. San Joaquin County is
located in a historic natural floodplain. Before we had levees and other
flood protection infrastructure, our entire area was frequently covered with
water. The levees and other flood control infrastructure provide limited
protection to certain areas by forcing high water to flow past us without
flooding. For the Map Modernization process, we speak of a property as
being “in the floodplain” if it is within an area not considered to be
protected from a "100-year flood." This includes some properties that are
not protected by any levees, or properties that are protected by levees that
are not expected to provide protection against a 100-year or greater flood.
10. What is a “100-year flood event”?
"100-year flood event" is a fairly large, historically-infrequent flood. To
be precise, it is a flood of a size that is projected to have only a
one-percent (one in 100) chance of being equaled or exceeded each year.
This does not mean that this size of flood will only occur once every 100
years. The likelihood of a 100-year flood occurring within a 100-year
stretch of time is very high, but there is no way to predict when the next
flood will occur – or the one after that. We could have several 100-year
floods in a short period of time, or we might not see a 100-year flood in
our lifetimes or our grandchildren’s lifetimes.
IS THERE A PROBLEM, AND WHAT IS BEING DONE TO PROTECT US?
San Joaquin County’s
existing flood control facilities, including levees, have been improved and
maintained to provide the relatively high level of flood protection that our
area currently has. However, stricter standards from the federal and state
governments will necessitate additional improvements and will require some
property owners to purchase flood insurance. In addition, newly enacted
State law will require an even higher level of flood protection (200-year)
in future years for our urban areas, to guard against historically
infrequent but potentially severe high-water events.
Joaquin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District formed a
Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) in May 2006. The TAC has been meeting
regularly since formation and includes representatives from the County,
several of our cities, reclamation districts, and other flood protection
interests. The group is continually working to monitor our flood protection
situation, share information with the various local levee agencies, and
recommend flood protection improvements, both short-term and long-term, to
our local, State, and Federal elected officials. The TAC normally meets the
fourth Friday of every month. Please contact the Flood Management Division
at (209) 468-3061 if you would like more information about the Flood
12. What is a Special Flood Hazard Area, aND
HOW DO I DETERMINE IF MY PROPERTY IS LOCATED IN THIS AREA ON THE FLOOD
INSURANCE RATE MAPS?
FEMA classifies land as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) if it is located
in a 100-year flood zone on the current effective FIRM. The floodplain administrator for your community can determine which
parcels are now included in the "100-year floodplain," or "A-Zone," on the
new FIRMs effective October 16, 2009. This determination is done using
computerized mapping software that integrates FEMA’s flood zone data with
Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) data. (Please refer to the contacts at the
end of these questions for the telephone number of the appropriate
floodplain administrator to contact for your specific property, and links to
HOW DO FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAPS (FIRMs) AFFECT ME?
showing the extent to which areas of San Joaquin County – and individual
properties – are at risk for flooding, FIRMs help home and business owners
understand their flood risk and make more informed financial decisions about
protecting their property. All property owners are advised to become
educated about their property’s flood risk, and to consider purchasing flood
insurance. In some cases, flood insurance is required, based on your
FEMA-designated flood zone. FIRMs also allow community planners, local
officials, engineers, builders and others to make important determinations
about where and how new structures and developments should be built to
minimize flood risk. Because San Joaquin County participates in the
National Flood Insurance Program, we must follow the Program’s rules and
regulations for what and how we build in SFHA.
14. Why DID only certain AREAs of the County have changes to their flood
insurance requirements are based on your flood risk zone shown on the FIRMs.
During the Map Modernization process, FEMA evaluated the current condition
of our flood protection levees and compared our levees to their standards.
Based on these inspections, as well as the updated water flow and drainage
patterns, FEMA redrew the boundaries of the flood risk zones for our
County. This changed flood insurance requirements for some property owners
on October 16, 2009, when FEMA’s new FIRMs went into effect.
15. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A PROPERTY IS PLACED IN A SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD AREA
a FIRM indicates a building is now located in a SFHA
(an “A Zone”), flood insurance is required if the property owner carries a
mortgage, loan, or note from a federally-regulated lender.
If you do not
have a mortgage, it is still recommended that a property owner buy flood
insurance. Over the life of a 30-year loan, there is about a 3 times
greater chance of having a flood in your home than having a fire. Most
homeowner’s insurance policies do not provide coverage for damage due to
16. WHAT IS A
Virtually every mortgage lender is Federally regulated. If your lender is
subject to the laws, rules, and regulations of any of the following, it is a
Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)
Credit Union Administration (NCUA)
the Comptroller of the Currency
Governors of the Federal Reserve System
if your lender ever sells any loans to the Federal National Mortgage
Association ("Fannie Mae"), or to the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation
("Freddie Mac"), or to any other Government-Sponsored Enterprise, it is
WHAT IS THE “GRANDFATHERING RULE” AND HOW CAN IT HELP ME?
The National Flood Insurance Program has "grandfathering" rules to recognize
policyholders who complied with the flood map in place at the time of
construction, or who maintain continuous flood insurance coverage. These
rules allow such policyholders to maintain a lower premium rating for their
building even if their property changes to a high-risk designation when maps
if a property owner purchased flood insurance BEFORE a new map placed the
property in a SFHA, and if the flood insurance has not
lapsed, annual renewal premiums will usually cost less than if the flood
insurance was not purchased until AFTER the new map went into effect.
18. HOW CAN I TELL IF I WILL BE required to purchase insurance?
The new FIRMs are available for viewing by the public online at
www.sjgov.org/pubworks/firmpanels.htm, or at the County Public Works
Building at 1810 E. Hazelton Avenue in Stockton. You can also look up an
address or parcel number using the Flood Zone Viewer at
these maps, you should be able to tell if your property was mapped into a
SFHA (A-Zone) on October 16, 2009. Contact your
floodplain administrator (see information below) if you have any questions
about how to interpret these maps.
19. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DID NOT BUY FLOOD INSURANCE BY OCTOBER 15, 2009?
you did not purchase flood insurance by October 15, 2009, and your
property is located in a SFHA on the new maps, your
lender will notify you that you are now required to purchase flood
20. IS THERE ANY WAY I CAN PAY LESS THAN THE EXPENSIVE “A-ZONE” PREMIUM IF
I WAITED UNTIL AFTER OCTOBER 15, 2009 TO BUY FLOOD INSURANCE?
certain cases, IF your home was built AFTER the very first FIRM was
published for your area, and you supply your insurer with extra
documentation, they will charge you only the "Standard X" rate for your
flood insurance policy. This is more expensive than buying a Preferred Risk
Policy before October 16, but if you are willing to gather the documentation
for them, you will pay less than you would for an "A-Zone" policy. Please
see below for the effective dates of the first FIRM for your area. Please
ask your insurance agent about the details of this National Flood Insurance
property is being mapped into a SFHA and your home was built BEFORE the
effective date of the first FIRM for your area, you must purchase insurance
NO LATER THAN the day before the map becomes effective in order to secure a
"grandfathered Standard X" rate for your property.
Please note that FEMA has announced that it will offer the lower-cost
Preferred Risk Policy to property owners for a period of two years after a
map change goes into effect. This was announced in May of 2010. Details
about this will be posted as they become available.
21. WHAT HAPPENS IF I REFUSE TO PURCHASE FLOOD INSURANCE WHEN I HAVE BEEN
NOTIFIED BY MY LENDER THAT I AM REQUIRED TO DO SO?
you do not purchase flood insurance when required, your lender will be
forced to buy a policy for you in order to keep your loan in compliance with
Federal regulations. Your lender will then bill you for the expense, adding
it to the outstanding balance of your loan. These "force place" policies
are much more expensive than flood insurance purchased by the property
22. WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF MY PROPERTY CHANGES FROM A HIGH-RISK TO A LOWER-RISK
When a building moves to a low- or moderate-risk area, there is no longer a
Federally mandated requirement to purchase flood insurance. However, the
risk has only been reduced, not removed. Flood insurance is still
recommended. Upon the adoption of new maps, you may be eligible for a
lower-cost Preferred-Risk Policy (PRP). Through your insurance agent, it is
simple to submit a PRP application to avoid any gaps in your flood coverage.
MIGHT THE NEW FLOOD MAPS AFFECT ME FINANCIALLY?
financial impact from the new flood maps is a possible change in your
property’s insurance requirements and rates. These changes may influence
property values. Your local agencies are working together and with the State
and Federal governments to continue to improve flood protection in our area
in order to increase public safety and decrease financial burdens and risk.
property is in a floodplain and you have purchased flood insurance under the
"grandfathering" rules, when you sell your home the new owner can
continue to pay the lower "grandfathered" insurance rate, so long as there
is no lapse in the policy. This is a selling point, should you decide to
sell your home, even if you personally do not have a mortgage that requires
you to purchase the flood insurance now.
possible financial impact would be the need to raise local funding for
additional flood protection construction projects. This would likely be
done through voter-approved assessments. An investment in improved flood
protection infrastructure protects lives and property from floods. It can
have additional beneficial financial effects such as decreasing insurance
premiums and increasing property values.
24. WHAT IF MY HOME OR BUSINESS IS MAPPED INTO A HIGH-RISK AREA BUT I
BELIEVE THE DESIGNATION IS IN ERROR?
Flood map designations are always based on the best data available to
engineers and local officials at the time areas within a community are
surveyed and assessed. Every effort is made to ensure that the maps reflect
the most accurate and reliable information about the flood risk for all
properties. However, re-examining and updating flood hazard information for
an entire community is often a multi-year process, and you may feel that you
have more accurate data about your property than what is shown on the new
mechanism to ensure that residents’ and property owners’ questions or
concerns about the new map designations were addressed, a Public Comment
Period took place between January 15, 2008, and April 16, 2009. During
this period, citizens had the opportunity to submit technical and/or
scientific data to support a claim that their property had been improperly
placed in a high-risk area. Several areas of the County were removed
during this period, including the town of Woodbridge and areas in Lodi and
the new FIRMs became effective and regulatory on October 16, 2009, property
owners can still correct flood zone designations using the standard FEMA
“Letter of Map Change” (“LOMC”) procedure. More information about this
process can be found on FEMA’s website: www.msc.fema.gov. [Click on Homeowners/Renters.]
SMITH CANAL LEVEES DE-ACCREDITED BY FEMA?
order for FEMA to recognize a levee as providing 100-year flood protection,
the community must demonstrate that the levee meets all of the certification
requirements of the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 44, Section 65.10
which include criteria for design, operation plans, maintenance plans, and
certification by a registered civil engineer. The Smith Canal levees were
not able to meet all of the requirements necessary to gain certification.
26. ONLY DRAINAGE WATER FROM WITHIN THE CITY OF
STOCKTON FLOWS TO SMITH CANAL DURING STORMS. WHERE WOULD THE FLOOD WATER
During a 100-year flood, water from the San Joaquin River to the west will
back up into Smith Canal. Should the Smith Canal levees overtop or fail,
the Country Club area, which lies at or near sea level in most areas, would
be inundated by flood waters flowing through the canal from the San Joaquin
27. WHAT IS BEING DONE TO PROVIDE 100-YEAR FLOOD PROTECTION FOR THE COUNTRY
The San Joaquin Area Flood Control Agency (SJAFCA) is currently pursuing the
design and construction of a gate structure at the mouth of Smith Canal.
The gate would normally rest on the bottom of the channel, allowing for boat
traffic and normal tidal fluctuations. During high water periods, the gate
would be raised, preventing floodwaters from the San Joaquin River from
entering Smith Canal. The project is estimated to cost $30 million.
28. CAN NEW HOMES, BUSINESSES, AND OTHER STRUCTURES BE BUILT IN SPECIAL
FLOOD HAZARD AREAS (SFHAs)?
New homes, business, and other structures can be built in SFHAs, however
they must meet special design and construction requirements aimed at
minimizing potential flood damage to the structure. Among the requirements,
habitable spaces must have the floor elevated above the 100-year flood
elevation, which can be 10 feet or more above grade in some areas. Contact
your community floodplain administrator for all requirements specific to
your proposed project.
29. CAN IMPROVEMENTS, SUCH AS ADDITIONS AND REMODELS, BE MADE TO EXISTING
HOMES, BUSINESSES, AND OTHER STRUCTURES WITHIN SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD AREAS?
Improvements, such as additions and remodels, can be made to existing homes,
businesses, and other structures within SFHAs, however, if the cost of the
improvement equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the existing
structure, it must be brought into compliance with current SFHA construction
requirements, which may involve significant alterations, including elevating
all habitable areas of the structure above the 100-year flood elevation.
Contact your community floodplain administrator for all requirements
specific to your proposed project.
WHY SHOULD AN OWNER SUFFER WHAT SEEMS TO BE A PENALTY FOR UPGRADING AND/OR
IMPROVING A STRUCTURE?
When a structure located in a SFHA is improved,
additional real property is thereby put at risk for flood damage. In an
effort to discourage building in SFHAs, FEMA requires the County to impose
higher restrictions on substantial improvements. Structures located in a
special flood hazard area that are not elevated to or above the base flood
elevation (BFE) pose
threats to the health and safety of the occupants of these structures, as
well. Over time it is not only important to protect existing structures
through substantial improvement requirements, but also to protect the health
and lives of the citizens that occupy these structures.
31. IF A HOME, BUSINESS, OR OTHER STRUCTURE WITHIN A SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD
AREA IS DAMAGED BY FIRE, FLOOD, WIND, OR OTHER SOURCE OF DAMAGE, CAN IT BE
Homes, businesses, and other structures within SFHAs can be repaired if
damaged by fire, flood, wind, or any other source of damage, however, if the
cost of the repair equals or exceeds 50 percent of the pre-damage market value of
the structure, it must be brought into compliance with current SFHA
construction requirements, which may involve significant alterations,
including elevating all habitable areas of the structure above the 100-year
BFE. Contact your community floodplain
administrator for all requirements specific to your proposed project.
32. THE NEW SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD AREAS ARE DESIGNATED “ZONE A” WITH NO BASE
FLOOD ELEVATION (BFE) SHOWN. WHO DETERMINES THE REGULATORY BFE FOR THESE
community floodplain administrators use study methods and engineering
analyses accepted by FEMA to determine regulatory BFEs for the new SFHAs.
33. WHAT IF OUR COMMUNITY DID NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE NFIP?
There would be several consequences if our community did not participate in
the NFIP. The biggest consequence is that affordable flood insurance would
not be available for any buildings, including residential and commercial.
If someone wanted to obtain flood insurance, they would have to go through a
private insurance company and pay exorbitant premiums. As a result of
non-participation, there would be no Federal grants, loans, or mortgage
insurance for structures located in a SFHA. Federal
disaster assistance would be unavailable following a declared disaster.
Owners of buildings with conventional loans would also be required to notify
buyers or lessees if a property were in a SFHA, and
that Federal disaster relief would not be available in a declared disaster.
34. WHERE CAN I GET MORE
for more information. The website is periodically updated to include new
information about the floodplain remapping process and any upcoming public
meetings, as well as links to other sources of flood protection
information. FEMA also has the new FIRMs available on their website.
website on mapping:
Map Assistance Center
1-877-FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Open Mon-Fri, 5am-3:30pm PST
To view, or
purchase current flood hazard maps for a nominal fee:
www.msc.fema.gov or 1-800=358-9616
information about flood insurance:
To find a
local agent: 1-888-FLOOD29 or check your local Yellow pages
Meetings: Dates and locations will be announced as scheduled.
www.sjgov.org/pubworks to get more information about San Joaquin
County Flood Insurance Rate Maps, flood protection information, and flood
www.sjmap.org/floodzoneviewer to view the flood zone in which
your parcel is located. Please contact the Flood Management Division at
(209) 468-3605 if your parcel is located next to a river, stream, slough,
or other waterway.
www.stocktongov.com or (209) 937-8561
www.ci.manteca.ca.us or (209) 239-8460
City of Lodi
www.lodi.gov or (209) 333-6801
www.ci.lathrop.ca.us or (209) 941-7430
www.sjgov.org or (209) 468-3063
County Office of Emergency Services
www.sjgov.org/oes/ or (209) 953-6200
FIRST FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAP EFFECTIVE DATES:
(UNINCORPORATED) MAY 15, 1980
OF STOCKTON JANUARY 3, 1979
TRACY JUNE 18, 1987
LODI MARCH 1, 1978
MANTECA DECEMBER 16, 2005
LATHROP MAY 15, 1980 (SJC)
RIPON SEPTEMBER 24, 1984