It is important to note that with the new digital map format, FEMA is moving towards digital distribution. With flood maps distributed on or after October 1, 2009, FEMA will provide a single paper map and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) to each community when their maps are updated and will convert all other distribution of maps and FIS reports to digital delivery.
FEMA will continue to provide free, digital map products and data to federal, state, tribal, and local National Flood Insurance Program
(NFIP) stakeholders. FEMA announced this change in the Federal Register
, Vol. 23, No. 76, issued on October 23, 2008.
- Flood Hazard Mapping Information: FEMA produces Flood Insurance Rate Maps, commonly known as FIRMS, to support the National Flood Insurance Program. The FIRMs depict Special Flood Hazard Areas, the areas subject to inundation from the 1% annual chance flood (also known as the Base Flood or the 100-Year Flood). The SFHA determines where flood insurance is required as a condition of a federally insured loan through the NFIP mandatory purchase requirement. This requirement is intended to shift flood damage and recovery costs away from the general taxpayer and on to those who live in floodplains. The risk zones and flood elevations shown on the FIRMs within the SFHA are used to determine flood insurance rates. The SFHA also determines where NFIP floodplain management requirements must be enforced by communities that participate in the program.
- Transition to Digital Mapping: FEMA has been involved in “modernizing” and updating their FIRM inventory. FIRMs need to be updated for a number of reasons, including outdated base maps, development in watersheds, advancements in flood modeling, etc. Modernized FIRMs include an updated orthophoto base map. These FIRMs will be known as Digital FIRMs (DFIRMs) because they will be produced as a digital GIS based product.