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In support of the NFIP, FEMA identifies flood hazard areas throughout the U. S. and its territories by producing Flood Hazard Boundary Maps (FBMs), Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Several areas of flood hazards are commonly identified on these maps. One of these areas is the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), a high-risk area defined as any land that would be inundated by a flood having a 1-percent chance of occurring in any given year (also referred to as the base flood).

The high-risk-area standard constitutes a reasonable compromise between the need for building restrictions to minimize potential loss of life and property and the economic benefits to be derived from floodplain development. Development may take place within the SFHA, provided that development complies with local floodplain management ordinances, which must meet the minimum Federal requirements. Flood insurance is required for insurable structures within high-risk areas to protect Federal financial investments and assistance used for acquisition and/or construction purposes within communities’ participation in the NFIP.

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