The Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), has developed a series of topographic maps for Mississippi Gulf Coast counties which help property owners rebuild to safe elevations to meet FEMA’s advisories.
FEMA released its Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps online in November, 2005 which detailed the 100-year flood levels and Hurricane Katrina’s storm surge. At that time, maps providing ground elevations were not available for comparison.
“The addition of the topographic maps should help facilitate the recovery effort in Gulf Coast communities by simplifying the process to determine the elevation a structure will need to be raised,” said Todd Davison, FEMA’s regional mitigation director.
Property owners can now use both sets of maps found on FEMA’s Web site in tandem. Subtracting the ground elevation on the topographic map from the base flood elevation found on the Katrina Recovery Map will determine the approximate height to build to.
In addition to the topographical data, updates to the Recovery Maps were made which include boundaries for the 1.5-foot and 3-foot wave zones. FEMA has documented in previous storms that even waves of 1 to 2 feet can cause structural damage to buildings and has long recommended that these hazards be addressed in building design and construction.
The topographic maps are for advisory purposes only. FEMA still advises property owners to have an official site survey completed by a licensed surveyor or engineer for local permitting purposes.
The Katrina Flood Recovery Maps are preliminary and do not supersede current Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for insurance rating purposes. FEMA and the state of Mississippi will continue detailed engineering studies to produce revised FIRMs within the next 12-18 months. Once complete, communities which decide to adopt the new FIRMs will be eligible to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
For online access to topographic and Katrina Recovery Maps, visit FEMA’s homepage, www.fema.gov and click the link, “Katrina Recovery Maps” in the Spotlight section.
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