Floodplain & FEMA Information

Flood hazard data is available for review on the FRIS website. This information is only available in digital form. Please visit http://fris.nc.gov/fris/ to view the information. 

What is the National Flood Insurance Program?

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created by Congress in 1968 to reduce the loss of life and property, and the rising disaster relief costs caused by flooding.

The program was designed to achieve these goals by:

  1. Requiring that new and future substantially improved buildings be constructed to resist flood damages;
  2. Guiding future development away from flood hazard areas; and
  3. Transferring the costs of flood losses from the American taxpayers to floodplain property owners through flood insurance premiums. In recent decades, more than eighty (80) percent of disaster losses nationwide have been caused by floods.

The NFIP is a voluntary program based on a mutual agreement between the federal government and the local community. Federally-backed flood insurance coverage is available to any property owner in return for mitigation of flood risks by community regulation of floodplain development. Flood insurance, and most types of federal financial assistance, such as mortgage loans and grants, are only available in those communities that adopt and enforce a floodplain management ordinance that meets or exceeds the minimum NFIP standards. These same standards must also be adhered to by all federal agencies under a Presidential Floodplain Management Executive Order.

The NFIP's land-use regulations are intended to prevent the loss of life and property, as well as economic and social hardships, resulting from flooding. There is clear evidence that these goals have been achieved in areas where buildings and other developments are in compliance with the community's floodplain management ordinance.

Flood insurance premiums for new buildings are based on flood risk, which is determined by the elevation of the lowest floor of the structure relative to the elevation of the national base flood standard. The base flood, sometimes referred to as the “100-year” flood, has a one (1) percent chance of occurring in any given year. FEMA has mapped over 100 million acres of flood hazard areas nationwide and has designated some six (6) million acres of floodways along 40,000 miles of streams and rivers. Floodways are areas that must be preserved in order to allow the discharge of the base flood, and communities are required to prohibit any development within a floodway that would cause an increase in flood heights. Floodways are often the most hazardous areas within a community and generally coincide with environmentally sensitive areas.

Since 1986, and even with the flood loss claims from recent devastating hurricanes and nor'easters, the NFIP has maintained its goal of being financially self-sufficient.

Click here to view the Flood Maps for the Town of Sunset Beach and Brunswick County.

Please click below to view the Floodplain Permit Instructions and the Floodplain Development Application.

Please contact the Planning and Inspections Department with questions or concerns. 

North Carolina Flood Risk Information System  Look up your flood zone
CRS Resources  
Brunswick County GIS  
Elevation Certificate  Form and Instructions
National Geodetic Survey Survey Data Explorer  NGS provides Information about survey marks (including bench marks) in text datasheets or in GIS shapefiles.
FloodSmart  This is an official site of the National Flood Insurance Program
USGS WaterAlert  The U.S. Geological Survey WaterAlert service sends e-mail or text (SMS) messages when certain parameters, as measured by a USGS real-time data-collection station, exceed user-definable thresholds.
Brunswick County Flood Resource links  


Avoid Hurricane Damage

  • Install and maintain storm shutters
  • Install a generator for emergencies
  • Anchor or remove potential wind borne objects
  • Make a checklist



Build Responsibly

Tips to Build Responsibly in Sunset Beach

  • Determine if the lot and building presently meet the setback for new construction
  • Always check with the Planning & Inspections Department before you build on, alter, degrade or fill on your property
  • Report illegal building or filling to the Planning & Inspections Department at 910-579-6297
  • If you are in the process of, or planning on, building or retrofitting your home or business in a coastal flood hazard area, have your architect / engineer or contractor use the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s technical resources for Residential Coastal Construction


Drainage System Maintenance


  • No dumping
  • Check your downspout-drain away from the house
  • Protect our natural resources and protect yourself from flooding due to drain blockage by reporting illegal activities to the Planning & Inspections Department.
  • Only rain goes down the drain

Federal Emergency Management Agency Resources

FEMA Publications 

NFIP Information

Insure Your Property

About Insurance

  • Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect
  • Being insured is one of your best forms of protection
  • To find out more about flood insurance, contact any licensed insurance agent
  • Flood insurance is available to almost everyone
  • Flood policies are available to homeowners, condo owners, apartment owners, renters and business owners

Resources & Information


Know Your Flood Hazard

Coastal Zones / LiMWA

There are three basic coastal zones and one new zone in the new NFIP maps:

  1. The flood zone X is considered to be a low risk of flooding.
  2. VE zones or Coastal High Hazard Areas are zones where high velocity wave action accompanies the storm surge and can cause severe damage to buildings.
  3. AE zones are areas affected by storm surge but where wave action is diminished or absent.
  4. For the first time FEMA has established another area within the AE zone called the Limit of Moderate Wave Action or LiMWA. These moderate waves can cause damage to buildings, though they are not as damaging as the waves expected in the VE zone. Communities that adopt the Limit of Moderate Wave Action as a higher regulatory standard may earn flood insurance rate discounts.

Additional Resources & Information

Protect People


  • Prepare your family (FEMA “Know Your Risks" brochure)
  • Do not walk through flood waters
  • Do not drive through a flooded area
  • Stay away from power lines and electrical wires

Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Most flood fatalities happen because people try to drive through deadly waters rather than avoid them. (Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2005)

  • Pay attention to barricades. Don't ignore them by driving past them
  • Do not drive through standing water on roads or in parking lots
  • The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water, and roads covered by water are prone to collapse
  • Attempting to drive through water also may stall your engine, with the potential to cause irreparable damage if you try to restart the engine
  • If you come upon a flooded street, take an alternate route

Protect Your Property

Guidelines for Protecting Your Property

  • Determine the floor elevation relative to local flood predictions
  • Use flood damage-resistant building materials for all construction below the BFE susceptible to flooding
  • Do not convert the space below BFE to habitable space. Use the space below BFE solely for parking of vehicles, building access, or storage
  • Protect against high winds by installing storm shutters and reinforcing garage doors
  • The best way to protect your home is through the National Flood Insurance Program
  • Thousands of homeowners thought it would never happen to them. Don’t be one of those homeowners

Protect the Floodplain

Protect the Natural and Beneficial Functions of the Floodplain

Learn More

To learn more about the importance of protecting floodplains for people and wildlife, visit the National Wildlife Federation website.