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NFIP and Flood Insurance Rate Maps

The Village of Winnetka participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which makes federally guaranteed flood insurance available for all eligible buildings, whether they are in a floodplain or not.  Flood insurance covers direct losses caused by surface flooding, including a river flowing over its banks, a lake or ocean storm, and local drainage problems.  If a flooding problem is caused or aggravated by sewer backup, consult with your insurance agent about obtaining a sewer backup rider to your homeowner’s insurance policy.  There is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage. 

The NFIP insures buildings, including mobile homes, with two types of coverage: building and contents.  Building coverage is for the walls, floors, insulation, furnace, and other items permanently attached to the structure.  Contents coverage may be purchased separately, if the contents are in an insurable building.  There is a 30 day waiting period before flood insurance coverage goes into effect.  Please note that standard property insurance does not cover flood damage.  Premiums for non-SFHA structures can be gotten at a much reduced rate.

Mandatory Purchase Requirement

The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 made the purchase of flood insurance mandatory for federally guaranteed mortgages on buildings located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA’s).  It also affects all forms of Federal or Federally related financial assistance for buildings located in SFHA’s.  The SFHA is the base (1% Annual Chance or 100-year) flood plain mapped on a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). It is shown as one or more zones that begin with the letter “A” or “V”.

The requirement applies to secured mortgage loans from financial institutions, such as commercial lenders, savings and loan associations, savings banks, and credit unions that are regulated, supervised or insured by Federal agencies such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of Thrift Supervision.  It also applies to all mortgage loans purchased by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac in the secondary mortgage market.

Federal financial assistance programs affected by the laws include loans and grants from agencies such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, Farmers Home Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Small Business Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security’s FEMA.

How it Works

Lenders are required to complete a Standard Flood Hazard Determination (SFHD) form whenever they make, increase, extend, or renew a mortgage, home equity, home improvement, commercial, or farm credit loan to determine if the building or manufactured (mobile) home is in an SFHA.  It is the Federal agency’s or the lender’s responsibility to check the current Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) to determine if the building is in an SFHA.  Copies of the FIRM are available for review in most local government building or planning departments.  Lenders may also have copies or they may use a flood zone determination company to provide the SFHD form.

If the building is in an SFHA, the Federal agency or lender is required by law to require the recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building.  Federal regulations require building coverage equal to the amount of the loan (excluding appraised value of the land) or the maximum amount of insurance available from the NFIP, whichever is less.  The maximum amount available for a single-family residence is $250,000.  Government-sponsored enterprises, such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, have stricter requirements.

The mandatory purchase requirement does not affect loans or financial assistance for items that are not covered by a flood insurance policy, such as vehicles, business expenses, landscaping, and vacant lots.  It does not affect loans for buildings that are not in an SFHA, even though a portion of the lot may be.  While not mandated by law, a lender may require a flood insurance policy, as a condition of a loan, for a property in any zone on a FIRM.

If a person feels that an SFHD form incorrectly places the property in the SFHA, he or she may request a Letter of Determination Review from FEMA.  This must be submitted within 45 days of determination.  More information can be found here.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps

In 1980, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM’s) designating areas that are subject to flooding for both the 100-year and 500-year flood events.  Subsequent to that, FEMA delegated the responsibility of enforcing flood protection ordinances and permitting within the flood plain to various jurisdictional bodies throughout the nation.  Winnetka is a delegated community.  As a delegated community, the Village of Winnetka must enforce its Flood Hazard Protection Ordinance in order to remain in good standing with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).   
On November 6, 2000, FEMA revised the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Winnetka.  The revised maps reflected the results of an increase in rainfall intensity and development within the study area which increased the base flood elevation (BFE) for Winnetka approximately 9”.  As a result of this increase, the limits of the flood plain broadened, placing many more Winnetka homes in the floodplain.  Unfortunately, this mapping did not accurately reflect the revised BFE elevation for that area north of Willow Road.   

On August 19, 2008, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) implemented a nationwide map modernization program, which resulted in the issuance of revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps.  As part of FEMA’s map modernization program, the maps for Winnetka now more accurately reflect the base flood elevation (BFE) boundary that had been determined as part of the November 6, 2000, map revision, most keenly observed north of Willow Road.  In addition to this change, FEMA is referencing a different vertical datum than that which had previously been used on prior FIRMs.  The new reference datum is the North American Vertical Datum (NAVD 1988).  The previously used datum was the National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD 1929).  In Winnetka, the conversion from NGVD 1929 to NAVD 1988 is approximately -0.2 feet.  In other words, the old BFE was 625.5 NGVD 1929, and converting to the new datum, the BFE is 625.3 NAVD 1988.  It is important to realize that even though the BFE did not change relative to the existing ground elevation, the numbers referencing the elevations are now different.  All Village of Winnetka benchmarks have been converted to the NAVD 1988 reference.

Copies of a FIRM as well as many other sources of important flood information can be obtained online through FEMA

Letters of Map Revision (LOMR-F)

According to FEMA, a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) is FEMA's modification to an effective Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), or Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM), or both. LOMRs are generally based on the implementation of physical measures that affect the hydrologic or hydraulic characteristics of a flooding source and thus result in the modification of the existing regulatory floodway, the effective Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), or the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The LOMR officially revises the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM), and sometimes the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report, and when appropriate, includes a description of the modifications. The LOMR is generally accompanied by an annotated copy of the affected portions of the FIRM, FBFM, or FIS report.

All requests for changes to effective maps, other than those initiated by FEMA, must be made in writing by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the community or an official designated by the CEO. Because a LOMR officially revises the effective NFIP map, it is a public record that the community must maintain. Any LOMR should be noted on the community's master flood map and filed by panel number in an accessible location.

FEMA Letters of Map Revision or Letters of Map Change, related to local properties, are provided by address, as listed below:

84 Indian Hill Road 140 Apple Tree Road 1011 Ash Street
1011 Mount Pleasant Road 1036 Ash Street 1201 Lindenwood Drive
1250 Lindenwood Drive 1241 Lindenwood Drive 384 Provident Avenue
1380 Westmoor Trail 1011 Willow Road 275 Locust Road
916 Higginson Lane 1228 Pine Street 342 Rosewood Avenue
1056 Mount Pleasant Road 1128 Mount Pleasant Road

120 Meadow Lane

1200 Lindenwood Drive 220 Birch Street 255 Locust Road

Letter of Map Amendments (LOMA's)

There are cases where a property may not be mapped in the 100-year floodplain, according to the FIRM, but based upon the topographic survey the elevation of the land is actually at or below the BFE.  On the other hand, a property may be mapped within the 100-year flood plain, but the topographic survey may show that it is actually above the BFE.  In these cases, it is recommended that a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) be obtained from FEMA.  If a LOMA is obtained and the limits of the 100-year flood plain are relocated such that the structure and addition (if proposed) are no longer situated in the 100-year flood plain, the homeowner will not be required to comply with the Flood Hazard Protection Ordinance, as long as the improvements do not encroach into the 100-year flood plain.  Also, by obtaining a LOMA for the removal of an existing structure, the flood insurance requirements for that property may be lessened or waived by the insurance company.

FEMA Letters of Map Amendment, related to local properties, are provided by address, as listed below:




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