Making Hazard Information Available and Accessible

Maps can only effect change on the ground if they’re used, and that means getting them into the right people’s hands and making sure that they know how to interpret them. Consider creating either printed or web-based maps that everybody can access. If your community has a GIS specialist, he or she can explain the different options available. For communities without a GIS expert, consider posting the maps at town/city hall, having available copies at the public library, and ensuring that each relevant board and department has copies for public viewing during business hours. For more ways to get your maps out to the public, see raising general hazard awareness.

Communities should be aware that MassGIS’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Map layer, also known as the Q3 data layer, is NOT an appropriate substitute for actual FIRMs for site-specific delineations of FEMA floodplain boundaries. For accurate, fine-scale determinations of FEMA floodplain boundaries, communities must use the hard copy FEMA FIRM maps until FEMA produces new FIRMs for each community, which will be available in digital format (DFIRMs). As of August 2007, digital FIRMs have been produced for Revere, Scituate, Marshfield, Duxbury, Quincy, and Plymouth. They are available through FEMA’s DFIRM Database. For all other communities, to zoom in to a specific property on a current FIRM, try making a FIRMette. For information on how to interpret FIRMs, see the interpreting FIRMs and FIS reports.

* Your community needs only 500 points to qualify for reduced flood insurance premiums through the Community Rating System (CRS). For more information (including how to apply for the CRS program), see our Community Rating System (CRS) primer.

Notes from the folks at CRS:

“Community websites that provide hazard information or link to other websites that provide hazard information related to the community receive credit under Activity 350. For many communities this may be the easiest way to provide their citizens with access to their FIRM. The community must publicize this service annually.”