The most hazardous flood zones are V (usually first-row, beach-front properties) and A (usually, but not always, properties near water).
According to FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program, any building located in an A or V zone is considered to be in a Special Flood Hazard Area, and is lower than the Base Flood Elevation. V zones are the most hazardous of the Special Flood Hazard Areas. V zones generally include the first row of beachfront properties. The hazards in these areas are increased because of wave velocity – hence the V designation. Flood insurance is mandatory in V zone areas.
Living in a V Zone
If your home is in a “V” zone (this includes VE and V-1-V-30), adhere to the following recommendations:
- The bottom of the lowest horizontal structural member of the lowest floor elevation must be at or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
- Enclosed areas below the lowest floor cannot be used for living space. The building must be elevated on piles, piers, posts or column foundation.
- Electrical, heating ventilation, plumbing, air conditioning equipment and other service facilities must be elevated to or above the BFE.
A zones – the next most volatile of the Special Flood Hazard Areas – are subject to rising waters and are usually near a lake, river, stream or other body of water. Flood insurance is mandatory in all A zones because of the high potential of flooding. A-zone maps also include AE, AH, AO, AR and A99 designations, all having the same rates. The different A zones are named depending on the way in which they might be flooded.
Living in an A Zone
If your home is in an A zone (includes AE, A1-A30, AH, AO, AR) follow these important recommendations:
- The lowest floor elevation must be at or above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
- BFE is the elevation shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for Zones AE, AH, A1-30, or VE that indicates the water surface elevation resulting from a flood that has a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year.
- The elevation of the lowest point of a house can be determined by a surveyor.
- Enclosed areas below the lowest floor cannot be used for living space.
- Electrical, heating, ventilation, plumbing, air conditioning equipment and other service facilities must be elevated to or above the BFE.
- X zones are minimal-risk areas where flood insurance is not mandatory.
- D zones are areas that have not been studied, but where flooding is possible.
For more information on each specific flood zone.