NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) new floodplain maps become effective June 19 and the City of New Bern is alerting residents to possible changes in their flood designation. 

Property owners are encouraged to examine the maps to determine if they are now in a low-to-moderate flood area or in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), defined as a high-risk flood zone. 

If the designation has changed, it is important that you contact your insurance agent to discuss locking in a lower flood insurance rate before June 19.

The City has created a GIS map showing the approximately 700 properties within city limits that will change from “no flood insurance required” to “flood insurance may be required” once the maps are adopted. 

These properties appear in red on the map found here:

To see if your property is affected, click on the link and type in your address in the block that says “Find address or place.”

Once you press Enter, the map zooms to that parcel. 

Clicking on the structure(s) will reveal additional information such as the Finished Floor Elevation (FFE) above sea level, Assessed Building Value, and Type of property.

Click the arrow at the top right of the information block to see whether the property falls into a new flood zone designation. 

If it does, the language will read, “New Flood Zone 2020: AE This area previously outside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA)…will be inside the SFHA and zoned: AE beginning July of 2020.”

“Understanding your flood risk can better protect your family and your property from flooding,” said Jeff Ruggieri, Director of Development Services. “It can also help inform your decision on insurance options to protect your investment.”

Generally, FEMA updates floodplain maps every 10 to 15 years.

These maps outline a community’s flood risk and help local governments and developers make informed decisions about planning and growth. 

This mapping is an essential part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), because it informs NFIP regulations and flood insurance requirements for property owners.

New Bern’s current flood maps date back to 2004. 

The State of North Carolina and FEMA released updated preliminary flood maps in 2016. 

After nearly four years of study, FEMA issued a letter of final map determination in December 2019. 

The updated maps show significant changes from the 2004 ones.

Several properties will be re-classified from no-risk to high-risk flood zones.

Other properties that remain in flood zones will have higher base flood elevation requirements that will affect the overall building height of new construction.

Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is the elevation to which the flood is anticipated to rise.

New Bern’s current BFE is 8 feet and will be changing to 8 to 13 feet, with the highest level closest to the rivers.

“If your designation has changed, there may be a benefit to buying flood insurance now,” said Ruggieri. “Property owners could see substantial cost savings by purchasing insurance protection now and being grandfathered into the new requirements versus waiting to get an actuarial insurance quote after the maps are adopted and made effective on June 19.”

According to FEMA, flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States, and most homeowner’s insurance policies may not cover the effects of flooding.

Flood insurance is required for all properties in the existing and new flood map area that are using federally-backed financing and also by many insurance companies. 

Whether required or not, without flood insurance, property owners are risking uninsured losses to their home, personal property, and business.

Flood insurance is available either through a private policy or through the NFIP. The State of North Carolina has developed a website to assess your flood risk.

You can visit the NC Flood Risk Information System at

For property owners who have received a LOMA, or Letter of Map Amendment, please contact Development Services at (252)639-7581.

LOMAs officially amend the flood hazard designation for properties and are applied through, and received from, FEMA. 

Property owners who need help identifying their property(ies) on the GIS map can also call Development Services for assistance.

Click here to read a draft version of the City’s Proposed Flood Damage Protection Ordinance.