A Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) is an official amendment, by letter, to an effective National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) map. A LOMA establishes a building’s location in relation to the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). LOMAs are usually issued because a home has been inadvertently mapped as being in the floodplain, but is actually on natural high ground above the base flood elevation.

Not everyone will qualify for LOMA’s.  However, if your lowest adjacent grades (items C2.f and C2.h on the Elevation Certificate) are above the BFE (Base Flood Elevation, item B9.) and your structure is located in a flood hazard zone beginning with the letter ‘A’ then you will most likely qualify. Once the LOMA is approved, the structure is effectively removed from the flood zone.

As part of its administration of the National Flood Insurance Program, the FEMA publishes flood hazard maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps or FIRMs. The purpose of a FIRM is to show the areas in a community that are subject to flooding and the risk associated with these flood hazards. One of the areas shown on the FIRM is a Special Flood Hazard Area. The SFHA is the area that has a 1-percent or greater chance of flooding in any given year; this area is also referred to by some as the 1-percent-annual-chance floodplain, base floodplain or the 100-year floodplain. The flood hazard and risk information presented on the FIRMs is the result of engineering studies that are performed by engineering companies, other federal agencies or communities, which are reviewed for compliance with FEMA guidelines and approved by FEMA.

FEMA uses the most accurate flood hazard information available and applies rigorous standards in developing the FIRMs. However, because of limitations of scale or topographic definition of the source maps used to prepare a FIRM, small areas may be inadvertently shown within an SFHA on a FIRM even though the building or property is on natural ground and is at or above the elevation of the 1-percent-annual-chance flood. This elevation is most commonly referred to as the Base Flood Elevation or BFE. Such cases are referred to as “inadvertent inclusions.”

Elevated HomesHow Do I Obtain Or Review The Flood Map For My Area And How Do I Read It?

The most widely distributed National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood map product is the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). A FIRM offers much useful information and represents the official depiction of flood hazards for a community.

On the FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) you may research, view and download (free) the available inventory of effective NFIP products, including the FIRM, the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) Report that accompanies the FIRM and other mapping products. The “effective date” is the date on which the NFIP map for a community becomes effective and all sanctions of the NFIP apply. Therefore, an “effective FIRM” is the NFIP map issued by FEMA that is in effect as of the date shown in the title block of the map as “Effective Date,” “Revised” or “Map Revised.”

You can also create a customized FIRMette—a paper copy of a user-defined portion of an effective FIRM, produced and saved on your computer. The FIRMette is a full- scale section of a FIRM that you create and formatted to print on most home/ office printers. The FIRMette can be used to help determine the location of a property or structure relative to the Special Flood Hazard Area and includes title block, scale and north arrow. To learn more about FIRMettes and how to create one, view the How to Find Your FIRM and Make a FIRMette Tutorial.

You may also view copies of the effective FIRM and FIS report by visiting the Community Map Repository for your community, which is usually maintained by the community floodplain administrator or officials at the planning and zoning office.

Homeowners are urged to use the How to Read a FIRM Tutorial along with the FIRM for your property to assist you in determining the potential flood risk for your property and whether you should insure your home from flood loss, as well as the How to Read a FIS Tutorial to assist you in understanding the information presented in the FIS report.