FEMA Floodplain Maps and Models

What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?

It is the official map of a community on which FEMA has delineated the special flood hazard areas, i.e., the floodplain areas where flood insurance is required for loans and where communities will administer floodplain regulations. (Note: Communities may regulate additional flood prone areas that are not on the FIRM).

What is a FIRMette?

An official copy of a portion of the FIRM as an 8-1/2 x 11 or 11 x 17 page.

Why would I need to use a FIRM?

  • Private citizens and insurance brokers use the FIRM to locate properties and buildings in flood insurance risk areas.
  • Community officials use the FIRM to administer floodplain management regulations and to mitigate flood damage.
  • Lending institutions and federal agencies use the FIRM to locate properties and buildings in relation to mapped flood hazards, and to determine whether flood insurance is required when making loans or providing grants following a disaster for the purchase or construction of a building.

How Do I View a FIRM?

  • Visit FEMA Map Service CenterThis link leads to an external site.and follow the tutorial on using FEMA's Map Service Center PDF to create floodplain maps for your area.
  • Access FEMA's National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL) viewerThis link leads to an external site.. This site provides access to digital floodplain data where it is available. Counties updated after 2003 have data digitized in this format. Follow the tutorial on using FEMA's NFHL viewer PDF for instructions on accessing information.
  • Visit the county/city website. Some counties and cities have done a tremendous job of making the FEMA floodplain information available in a map format, sometimes overlaid on ownership parcels or aerial photos.
    • List of Minnesota counties / cities with FEMA map information online (under construction).
  • Go to your county contacts/city zoning office
  • Go to DNR Waters Area or Regional Office PDF or Central Office (500 Lafayette Road, St. Paul 651-259-5700)
  • The DNR has PDFs and GIS files available online for counties that have been through FEMA's Map Modernization program. See the counties with data currently available at ftp://ftp.dnr.state.mn.us/pub/waters/floodplain/County_data

    NOTE: The maps in some counties are the current effective maps, but the maps are PRELIMINARY for counties that are currently going through the map update process.

How Can I Change or Correct a FIRM?

FEMA has established administrative procedures for changing effective FIRMs based on new or revised scientific or technical data.

  • Learn more about the process for changing a FIRM.
  • Forms needed to request changes to FIRM
    • MT-EZ Form - Use for Single Lot LOMA (Letter of Map Amendment; NO FILL involved
    • MT-1 Forms - Use for: (1) Multi-Lot LOMAs, & (2) LOMR-F (Letters of Map Revision based on FILL)
    • MT-2 Forms - Use for changes to FIRMs based on better data (i.e., updated hydrology or topography) or changes to the BFE or floodway (i.e., due to projects like bridges/culverts, flood control levees, etc.)
    • FEMA LOMA / LOMR-F Tutorial Series - You can learn more about LOMAs and LOMR-Fs, and can even fill out and print the forms on-line!

Updates to FIRMs - FEMA's National "Map Modernization" Project

Congress has authorized $1 billion ($200 million for 5 years) to convert the FEMA floodplain maps (FIRMs) to county-wide, digitally based maps.

FEMA Hydraulic Models

To view and download stream segment model information, visit the FEMA Hydraulic Model Download Application.