Water Resources Division


Flooding is the number one natural disaster affecting Americans. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created in 1968 to address losses from flooding. The program requires those who live in flood hazard areas to purchase insurance for flooding.

  • If your house is in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), your mortgage lender requires you to have flood insurance.
  • Homeowners insurance does not cover flood losses
  • If you live in a 100 year floodplain, the chance of your home being damaged by a flood is 26% over the lifespan of your mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of being damaged by fire.
  • A 100 year flood has a 1% chance of occurring every year.
  • New land development can increase flood risk, especially if construction changes natural runoff patterns.
  • Federal Disaster Assistance usually comes in the form of a loan that must be paid off

The Mitigation Directorate, a component of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), manages the National Flood Insurance Program. All flood insurance for residences, regardless of insurance agent, is proided by the NFIP. The three components of the NFIP are:

  • Flood Insurance
  • Floodplain Management
  • Flood Hazard Mapping

Nearly 20,000 communities across the United States and its territories participate in the NFIP by adopting and enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes Federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary.

In addition to providing flood insurance and reducing flood damages through floodplain management regulations, the NFIP identifies and maps the Nation's floodplains. Mapping flood hazards creates broad-based awareness of the flood hazards and provides the data needed for floodplain management programs and to actuarially rate new construction for flood insurance.

Flood insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Flood damage is reduced by nearly $1 billion a year through communities implementing sound floodplain management requirements and property owners purchasing of flood insurance. Additionally, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP building standards suffer approximately 80 percent less damage annually than those not built in compliance.

Wide Hollow, Cottonwood and Shaw Creek Flood Mapping become effective July 17, 2012, check on the status of your flood insurance!

The NFIP’s grandfathering provision offers savings for structures that were built before a flood map was issued for the community, or that were built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction. The simplest way to grandfather is to purchase a flood insurance policy before the new map takes effect and maintain coverage without a lapse. Check with your insurance agent or local building official, for other qualification.

If a structure was built in compliance with the requirements in place at the time of construction, the zone and Base Flood Elevation (BFE)* that was in effect can be used for rating purposes, if either is affected due to a map change. Sometimes using the new zone can provide a better rate than using the older one, so property owner should always ask their agent to look at both options.

If a policy is obtained before a new map becomes effective, policyholders can retain the rate associated with the previous map’s flood zone and BFE, as long as continuous coverage has been maintained. For structures built after a FIRM was issued, insurance costs will be based on the zone designation and BFE for the map in effect at the time the structure was built (unless the new map offers a lower rate). However, policyholders must submit supporting documentation to their insurer that shows the structure was built to conform to standards on the earlier map. Continuous coverage is not required in this case. If a structure was built before the community’s first FIRM was issued and the policy was not purchased prior to the effective date of a new map, policyholders can still save, but policy costs will be defined by pre-FIRM rates associated with their zone designation on the new map.


Why the PRP Extension?
Flood maps are changing as the assessment of flood risks changes due to community development, aging flood control structures, natural changes to topography, and better technology. The NFIP wants to ease the transition for property owners, who have been newly mapped into a high-risk flood zone, and the mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements that go along with map changes. If your property was newly mapped into a high-risk flood zone on or after October 1, 2008, you may be eligible for the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy for up to two years after the latter of the two following dates:

  • The effective date of the map revision; or
  • January 1, 2011

Who is eligible?

  • Property owners of buildings that have been newly mapped into high-risk flood zones (e.g., labeled with A, AE, AO, AH or V, or VE on the flood maps) due to a map revision on or after October 1, 2008, and before January 1, 2011, are eligible to receive a PRP for two policy years effective between January 1, 2011 and December 31, 2012. So, policies issued as standard-rated policies or converted to standard-rated policies following a map change on or after October 1, 2008, could be converted to the lower-cost PRP for two years beginning on the first renewal effective on or after January 1, 2011. On the third year, they may then be eligible for additional savings through grandfathering.
  • Property owners of buildings that are newly mapped into a high-risk flood zone due to a map revision on or after January 1, 2011, are eligible to receive a lower-cost PRP for two policy years from the map revision date. On the third year, they may then be eligible for additional savings through grandfathering.

What you will need to do: Talk to your agent. Previous and current flood zone documentation for your property will be needed to validate your PRP extension eligibility. Historic maps and current effective maps are available through FEMA's Map Service website: www.msc.fema.gov. If you have questions or would like more information, you can call the NFIP Help Center at 1-800-427-4661 for assistance.

Property owners should be fully aware of their flood risk and the current status of flood maps in their community. They can contact their local floodplain management or building officials to learn the status of local flood maps, or can obtain a copy of the current map at www.msc.fema.gov. Home and business owners who do not have flood insurance should contact their insurance agent to find out more about obtaining flood insurance or visit the FloodSmart web site www.FloodSmart.gov.

Floodsmart.org, FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program web site: http://www.floodsmart.gov

There are also several grant programs designed to help communities and individuals reduce their flood risks. Links to their web pages are listed below:

FEMA Floodplain Management (includes links to NFIP, Community Assistance Program, Community Rating System, etc.)

For additional in formation:


Community Rating System

The Community Rating System awards communities that voluntarily take steps beyond the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program to reduce flood risks and increase the effectiveness of flood insurance protection. Yakima County's volunteer actions include flood preparedness, flood damage reduction, mapping and regulations, and public awareness. Our Community Rating is an eight which results in a 10% savings on flood insurance for property owners in a Special Flood Hazard Area within the unincorporated areas in Yakima County.