FEMA - Special Flood Hazard Area Map Info

In 2020, Planning Services staff worked with the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on proposed changes to the FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area Map that may have affected 2500+ properties in Orange County. The county mailed notifications to affected property owners pursuant to §15.2-976 of the Code of Virginia. The appeals period through FEMA was open for property owners who wished to dispute proposed changes to their flood hazard risk designation.

Questions about flood maps and flood insurance were directed to FEMA by visiting the National Flood Insurance Program website, contacting the FEMA Call Center,  or by live chat serviceOrange County is also provided a link to the Preliminary National Flood Hazard data, here. Comments and questions were submitted to FEMAfloodmap@orangecountyva.gov in November 2020. Planning Services staff forwarded FEMA comments and technical appeals  by November 2020.  Comments and concerns were read by FEMA but not used to justify any map changes. Technical appeals were required to include scientific technical data, such as newer topographic data signed by a Professional Engineer or Licensed Professional Surveyor that showed different elevations than FEMA used, or any other scientific data (such as other surveys or hydrology) that proved that FEMA’s modeling and mapping was incorrect. FEMA made determinations regarding those technical appeals, i.e., decided whether mapping should be changed.

Appeals for specific properties were transmitted to FEMA in December 2020.Existing structures that were brought into a newly established flood zone were not brought up to the flood zone building standards. However, any addition(s) to existing homes needed to be built to the new flood zone requirements. If an existing home was damaged by fire, storm, etc., restoration of the structure would have to comply with the new flood requirements.

New construction must provide for occupied floors to be one (1) foot above the 100-year flood zone, which would eliminate the building of basements below grade in flood hazard areas. The elevation shall be the higher of the following:

(1) The base flood elevation at the depth of the peak elevation of flooding, including wave height, that has a one percent (100-year flood) or greater chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year; or

(2) The elevation of the design flood associated with the area designated on a flood hazard map adopted by the community, or otherwise legally designated.

Additionally, revised requirements for manufactured homes (new or replacement), tanks above or below ground, and electrical, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, plumbing, duct systems, and other service equipment shall apply. A registered design professional must prepare and seal documentation of elevations.

For additional information, please contact Sandra Thornton, Planning Services Manager at (540) 672-4347.