Is Your Marin Home in a Flood Zone?
In Marin, heavy rains and runoff into our creeks can cause flooding in nearby neighborhoods. If the bay tides are high, the streams drain slower and flooding can be more severe. There have been only a few years of flooding in Marin.
Areas that are prone to flooding in Marin are low-lying areas along creeks and in filled marshes along the bay.
FEMA Flood Map, New in 2016
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published new “flood maps” (FIRMS or Flood Insurance Rate Maps) for Marin in May, 2016. These show the flood risks, if any, of every property in Marin.
FEMA has defined flood hazard zones by the likely hood of flooding in the next 30, 100, 500 years, and so on:
- B, C, and X zones have low chances of flooding, and do not require flood insurance.
- A and V zones (also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas or SFHAs) have a high risk of flooding in the next 30 years. Flood insurance is required for properties in these zones.
Much of the flood zone determination has to do with the number of feet a house is above a base flood plane (or elevation). Each community determines this elevation. It may be, for example, 9 feet. This sometimes results in a peculiar situation where part of a property is in the flood zone and part is above. However, if the house is above the base elevation, flood insurance may not be required.
If you would like the official flood information on your house or another property, let us know. We can send you specific information about your property.
Where to Find Your Flood Status
There are two web sites that give you government information on the flood status of your home:
- MarinMap. Click on Search By Address at the top of the page, and then enter your property address. Then check “FEMA Flood Hazards” in the left column. This is the site that most towns in Marin use for property information.
- Our Coast Our Future. Click on Flood Map. This site gives you flood information, wave hazard for waterfront areas, predictions of sea level rise, and more.
FEMA may update your flood hazard status in without notice. It is useful to check these maps at least once a year.
Should You Buy Flood Insurance?
If you have a mortgage and your home is in FEMA zone A or V, your lender will most likely require flood insurance. If you do not carry a mortgage, flood insurance is an option. There are some exceptions, for example if part of your property is in a flood zone, but your house is not.
If your home is newly designted in a Special Flood Hazard Area, you may be able to buy a Preferred Risk Policy from FEMA, at a greatly reduced rate. Please contact us to explain your options.
What Can You Do to Prevent Flooding?
If you live in a flood hazard zone (A or V, contact us to find out), you have options to prevent flooding:
- Install a sump pump under your house. Also, consider a natural gas powered generator in case the power goes out. We have a great generator expert for you, Hazelton Electric.
- Have sandbags ready to block the water at critical locations.
- Raise your house above the flood plane. Some cites now require this if you do a major remodel extensively or if you build a new house. It may be a small investment relative to your construction costs, and well worthwhile.
What is Marin Doing to Prevent Flooding?
There are many solutions completed and many underway. A few years ago, Novato completed a large flood control project on the Novato Creek that protected neighborhoods from flooding.
Towns along the Corte Madera Creek, from Fairfax through Corte Madera to the bay, are working to provide unimpeded flow of the creek through developed areas. Creeks that drain easily are less likely to overflow. You can keep up to date with plans and ongoing programs at the Ross Valley Watershed website and the Friends of the Corte Madera Creek website.