Sunday, July 21, 2013


Finding flood zones

The Community Association manager where I reside recently sent out an email that warned of neighborhood flooding and noted that the city was making sandbags available.

Having grown up in the area, I am aware of flooding so before buying the manse I checked its relationship to the flood plain. (Anyone who has followed my thoughts for awhile knows I make checking environmental history part of risk management, especially when buying land.)

I challenged the paid-by-the-residents Association manager to tell us WHERE she got her information or where we could find it ourselves.

She failed or was unable to rise to the challenge.

After a week of no response from the paid-by-the-residents Association manager, I revisited the WWW to confirm my property still was outside the flood zone (FEMA recently revised its zoning program). I’m outside the zone.

My city’s Web site had a link to an excellent flood map, but it pays for the service from ArcGIS. If your community lacks similar mapping, try FEMA’s free map service at - plug in some location information and, if FEMA has a map of the area, you’ll soon have flood plain information.

For the record, FEMA lacks a flood map for Phoenix AZ, although flooding can be a problem for parts of the city.

If the community of interest lacks a flood map and if FEMA has yet to post a flood map for the community, check with the local planning and zoning offices. Also check the local lending library and the historical society (if any) for the community’s history.

Thanks to my city putting my tax dollars to work, I was able to zoom in to a Google Maps view of my property and a pop-up of the related flood zone information. A slightly edited pop-up display is shown below.

The information is out there. All a risk management practitioner has to do is search for it. Anything less is failing to do the job.

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