How to Read Maryland Flood Maps (and Determine if You Live in a Flood Zone)

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Understanding how to read a Maryland flood map is a good way to find out if your home is in danger should a water-related catastrophe hit your area. Flood maps provide information that help homeowners learn:

Floods can be dangerous and create a lot of damage, but many homeowners don’t know where to find these maps or how to read them. It’s an important skill to have, though: Bad floods can sweep away everything you own, are expensive to repair, and even put your life at risk. Even minor standing water can be dangerous, as any around your home’s structural foundation could compromise the entire structure within hours.

Here’s your guide to reading flood maps and understanding whether your Maryland-area home is at risk.

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Understanding Your Flood Risk

Taking a few minutes to learn more about flood zones could mean the difference between being prepared for a disaster and getting blindsided. Keep in mind that flood zones change over time and that maps get updated accordingly, meaning you should always keep an eye out for revisions.

Make sure you look at the date of any Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) map you use to ensure you’re looking at an accurate version!

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Important Flood-Related Definitions to Know

Official definitions can be useful, especially when you’re trying to determine whether your home needs flood insurance. The following definitions are found on the FEMA website.

Flood

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) defines a flood as “a general and temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow.”

Flood Zone

A geographic area that FEMA has defined according to varying levels of flood risk and type of flooding

Floodplain

Any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source

Flood Map

FEMA produces different types of flood maps, including a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), a Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM), and a Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM).

Flood maps show which areas are at risk of floods, the boundaries of those areas, floodways, mudflow, erosion areas, and Base Flood Elevations (BFEs).

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Why Flood Zone Maps are Created

FEMA flood insurance rate maps are used by a number of government officials and professional workers, including:

Whenever someone is buying, selling, or analyzing land, it’s important to know whether that section of land is in a floodplain zone. It’s a good idea for homeowners to use the maps, too, so they understand the flood risk at their own residences.

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How to Read a Flood Map

Is your house in a flood zone? To determine this, you’ll first have to be able to accurately read a flood zone map. Follow these steps to find out if your Maryland home or county is in a special flood hazard area.

Go to Maryland’s Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRM) Outreach Program.

Read about the Homeowners Flood Risk Resources.

Open up the flood map.

You can either select your county from the dropdown box on the left, or enter your address at the top.

Once you have found your location, click “Determine Flood Status” on the left and double-click on your house.

The pop-up that appears will have arrows at the bottom. Click on the arrows to see all the results, which should include an option to generate a report if you would like one.

NOTE: Any Home in a 100-Year Floodplain is at Risk

A 100-year floodplain is an area that has a 1 percent chance of flooding in any given year. Even this 1 percent chance is enough to consider your home at risk. Flooding is not only the overflow of oceans, lakes, and rivers, but can also happen when sewers back up and when frequent rains oversaturate the ground around your home. Even people who don’t live in flood risk areas still run a risk of flood damage.

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What to Do if Your Home is in a Flood Zone

If you have learned that your home is a flood risk, do your best to avoid panicking. This simply means it’s time to review what steps you should take as precautions.

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Prepare Your Home for Disaster Before it Strikes

You can prepare for flood damage whether your area is a flood risk or not. If you don’t know what would happen to your home in a flooding situation, or what to do if you’ve experienced water damage, we encourage you to learn more about your flood zone and the preventative measures you can take to seal your home and belongings against water.

If you have any questions, contact the experts at Dry House Restoration! Our team of professionals are happy to help you understand whether your house is in a floodplain, what you’re reading on available flood insurance rate maps, identify if your house is a flood risk, and planning solutions to your concerns.

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