Flood plain

Flood plain is a term every property owner should know. Here’s what it means.

What is a flood plain?

A flood plain is an area of land prone to flooding. Located along the edge of rivers, streams and lakes, flood plains play an important role in the environment by holding water overflow, filtering pollutants, controlling erosion, recharging groundwater, and replenishing soil. The proximity of flood plains to water and scenic views makes them popular sites for building homes, offices, and recreational facilities.

Deeper definition

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), any area that receives rain can flood. Flood plains, however, are more likely to flood each year since they are closer to the water. For this reason, property owners should know their risk of flooding and take action to reduce that risk by elevating the land, installing flood vents, or sealing enclosures. They also should consider purchasing flood insurance since most homeowner insurance policies do not include coverage for floods.

To determine the flood risk in your community, you can refer to the FEMA flood insurance rate map (FIRM) for the area. This map marks areas that are prone to flooding, called special flood hazard areas, and risk premium zones, which have a 1 percent chance of flooding each year. Land located in Zone AE has the greatest risk of flooding, while land labeled Zone X has the least risk of flooding. Other zones on the map indicate areas that can have waves reaching more than 3 feet and the base flood elevation of the region.

Example of a flood plain

The gently sloping land that leads to and from the shore of a lake is an example of a flood plain, but sometimes the flood plain isn’t as obvious. For example, the shape and size of a lake can change due to an extended drought or dam construction that restricts the amount of water flowing into it. After several years, builders may choose to put up houses in the area with views of the water and lush landscape. This can turn into a problem if the weather patterns change and bring enough rain to the area to refill the lake to previous levels.

You can take advantage of a home equity loan to protect your property. Compare home equity loan rates today at Bankrate.com.

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