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FEMA, Flood Elevation Surveys & LOMCs: What Does it All Mean?
FEMA, Flood Elevation Surveys & LOMCs: What Does it All Mean?

In the news today, we are seeing unprecedented amounts of flooding worldwide. For property owners, this might prompt you to look into where your home or business sits in reference to local floodplains. However, without prior knowledge of floodplain regulations and the rules/restrictions that exist, how can you be sure your property is covered if flooding does occur? Thankfully, with help from Austin Engineering, we can assist property owners in addressing concerns with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flood elevation surveys, Letters of Map Change, and more!

What are LOMCs?

Having your property’s flood zone designation changed or adjusted requires approval from FEMA via Letters of Map Change (LOMC). Simply put, a LOMC can identify errors in map data or changing geographics for a piece of property that require correction in a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Boundary and Floodway Map (FBFM). LOMCs have two primary letter types: Letters of Map Amendment (LOMA) and Letters of Map Revision (LOMR).

  • LOMA – A Letter of Map Adjustment is recommended when local FIRMs or FBFMs don’t correctly reflect the current elevation level of your property. In changing floodplain maps, pieces of land adjacent to existing floodplains are sometimes included in flood zone designations. However, if a property’s actual elevation doesn’t match floodplain maps, a LOMA can be submitted to request a correction.
  • LOMR – A Letter of Map Revision is similar to LOMAs in that both request changes in flood zone designation and elevation status on existing floodplain maps. However, LOMRs are primarily used when property owners wish to build structures or implement land development that would change a property’s current elevations.

Why Do LOMAs and LOMRs Matter?

By now, you might be a little lost with the amount of abbreviations being thrown around. And if you’re not someone who regularly deals with property surveys and flood elevation studies, confusion is understandable! To best assist in your understanding, Austin Engineering will get right to the point of why you might seek a LOMA or LOMR:

Mandatory vs. Voluntary Insurance

Based on your property’s elevation and current flood zone designation, you might be required by the federal government to pay for flood insurance. While flood insurance isn’t bad to have, it might be something you’re not willing to pay for if your property isn’t actually below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).

FEMA is continually adjusting floodplain maps to stay as relevant as possible. However, FEMA doesn’t always have accurate or up-to-date info for individual properties. A LOMA can challenge FEMA’s present flood zone designation of your property, thus opting you out of mandatory flood insurance.

Flood Insurance Rates

In the same way your property’s elevation above or below BFE determines whether flood insurance is mandatory or not, it can also affect the insurance rates you receive. For example, you’re likely to receive lower rates if your property sits above the BFE. Conversely, you might see higher rates with property below the BFE, being at greater risk for flooding.

Secure Funding

Finding investors for any land development or construction project can be challenging, especially if your property is listed as part of a flood plain. For new construction, acquiring a LOMR might be enough to convince investors there is minimal risk to your future structure. Additionally, it eases the cost of acquiring flood insurance or allows you to forgo it altogether.

What Austin Engineering Recommends

There’s incredible value in having your property correctly appraised and analyzed via surveys and elevation studies. Having accurate data reflect your land’s elevation ensures you always get the most from potential flood insurance policies and can begin construction projects without delay. However, in terms of acquiring a LOMA or LOMR to discontinue mandatory flood insurance, Austin Engineering recommends against doing so.

Initial flood zone designations are rarely done with no basis for why an area is at higher risk of flooding. Even if your property was under BFE but no longer is or wasn’t under BFE in the first place, this doesn’t mean you are safe from flooding. Flooding is still possible if your property is adjacent to or among other properties in the 100-year floodplain. For this reason, Austin Engineering doesn’t recommend seeking a LOMC to suspend already in place flood insurance. However, changing your flood zone designation can be incremental to finding private flood insurance with lower rates or securing permits for future construction.

How Can We Help?

When it comes to requesting a LOMC from FEMA, you need to be able to prove your property’s current (or future) elevation does not match existing flood zone maps. Unfortunately, acquiring such evidence can be challenging without the right equipment and experience for surveying properties. Thankfully, Austin Engineering has engaged in hundreds of surveys and flood elevation studies throughout the country. Not only can we provide a complete and accurate assessment of your property’s elevation, but we can help you submit paperwork for your LOMC request to FEMA and relevant parties.

Or, if a LOMA or LOMR is not what you need, Austin Engineering can assist with a variety of survey, land development and landscape design services. Our expert civil engineers can help with any new or existing residential, commercial, or industrial construction project. Allow our team to provide the design and guidance you need to make your next project successful! The first consultation for your proposed project is always free, with no obligation. We presently work with clients throughout the country, with offices in Peoria IL, Davenport IA, and Chattanooga TN.

311 SW Water St, Ste 215, Peoria, IL 61602
Phone: 309-204-0694

220 Emerson Place, Ste 101-A, Davenport, IA 52801
Phone: 563-207-4605

2115 Stein Dr, Ste 207, Chattanooga, TN 37421
Phone: 423-379-2725