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4/15/2011 - What's a flood zone?


Flood zones are given letter grades based on how at risk they are.

With spring in full swing, many people are hearing the word "flood zones" bandied about. But not everyone is clear on just what a flood zone is.

A flood zone is a geographic area that's given a designation of how at risk for flooding it is based on its topography.

Since Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency has been more active in determining what areas may be at risk for flooding by revising flood zone maps.

Communities that participate in FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program are assigned letter grades based on how at risk they are for flooding. Flood zones labeled a "B," "C," and "X" are at a low to moderate risk but zones with an "A" or "V" are high risk, and residents in those zones are generally required to purchase flood coverage as part of their homeowners insurance policy. Communities labeled a "D" could flood, but the exact risk hasn't been determined.

While some communities willingly participate in the NFIP, some lawmakers believe it should be ended. Last month, a Michigan congresswoman called on the U.S. Congress to end the NFIP, arguing the program should be replaced by more local programs.

Homeowners can find out if their community is in a flood zone or is participating the NFIP by visiting FloodSmart.gov.

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