Henrico County’s Floodplain Management Program is responsible for managing the county’s participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Henrico County has participated in the NFIP since the early 1980s, so that residents and businesses have access to flood insurance coverage, as well as access to certain federal grants, loans, and disaster assistance. As a requirement for participation in the NFIP, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requires special development considerations within the boundaries of an identified Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or floodplain.
SFHAs in Henrico County may also be referred to as the 100-year floodplain or the 1% annual chance floodplain. This does not mean that a flood will only occur once every 100 years. There is a 1% chance that this flood could occur in any given year, which means a flood could happen multiple times a year, several years in a row, or not at all for several years. According to FEMA, a home in the SFHA has a 26% chance of experiencing a 100-year flood event during a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 1-2% chance of experiencing a house fire during the same time period.
Managing the county’s NFIP participation includes reviewing permits for development in and near the floodplain, reviewing flood studies and map changes, and providing flood-related information to the public. Additionally, the Floodplain Management Program coordinates with several other county departments, such as Planning, Building Inspections, Recreation and Parks, and other divisions of Public Works. Floodplain Management also coordinates with the Office of Emergency Management on flooding response and recovery efforts, hazard mitigation planning, and hazard mitigation grant opportunities.
Contact the County’s Floodplain & Dam Safety Manager for more information.
The SFHA is regulated in County Code and consists of FEMA identified floodplain, as well as County-identified floodplain. All development in SFHAs must meet the requirements of the County Code and any applicable FEMA requirements. Most floodplain development requirements are found in Chapter 24: Zoning, but some requirements may also be found in Chapter 10: Environment, Chapter 19: Subdivisions, and the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code.
Henrico County also enforces higher standards for floodplain management, including a prohibition on new dwellings in the floodplain. All new buildings located in the floodplain, and some within a certain distance from the floodplain, must have their lowest floor elevated one (1) foot above the base flood elevation and submit an Elevation Certificate showing the floor elevations. Additionally, all development in the floodplain must submit a No-Rise Certificate with supporting technical data.
On August 10, 2021, the Board of Supervisors adopted a new Floodplain Ordinance. The new ordinance will be effective September 1, 2021 and is located in Chapter 10: Environment of the County Code (previously in Chapter 24: Zoning). The new ordinance is available for download below:
Henrico County’s currently effective floodplain maps became effective on December 18, 2007. These can be found on the county’s GIS Map Viewer or this Flood Zone Map Viewer. This includes both the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) and the county-identified floodplains. The FEMA FIRMs are used by lenders to determine flood insurance requirements on properties, which can also be found on the FEMA Map Service Center.
The floodplain boundaries may be modified based on new data or development changes. FEMA has a Letter of Map Change (LOMC) process that must be used to revise the FEMA floodplains. The LOMC process includes Letters of Map Revision (LOMR) and Letters of Map Amendment (LOMA). LOMRs change the boundaries displayed on the map and require engineered flood studies to support the request. LOMAs can remove individual structures or lots on naturally occurring high ground from the floodplain without changing the map boundaries. County-identified floodplains may also be revised through the Department of Public Works. Find requirements for County-floodplain revisions here.
James River Conditional Letter of Map Revision
A Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) was approved by FEMA on June 29, 2021 for Timmons Group, on behalf of Reynolds Real Estate Ventures, LLC, to revise the floodplain map for the James River and James River Tributary #7. Reynolds Real Estate Ventures, LLC is proposing to place fill as part of an economic development project in Chesterfield County. This change would revise the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), panels 51087C0240C and 51087C0220C, for Henrico County, as well as FIRM panels in Chesterfield County. Letters were sent to all property owners affected by this proposed change prior to FEMA approval. The Work Map and Annotated FIRM Map that were submitted to FEMA are provided below, which show the proposed floodplain boundary revisions.
This CLOMR approval means that Timmons Group and Reynolds Real Estate Ventures, LLC have conditional approval to move forward with their project. CLOMR approval will not revise the effective map. This conditional approval is for impacts to the floodplain map only, and the project is still required to comply with all applicable Chesterfield County requirements. If the project is approved and constructed, a Letter of Map Revision (LOMR) request must be submitted to FEMA to officially revise the FIRM. This revised FIRM would then be used for flood insurance purposes and floodplain development requirements.
The proposed changes by Timmons Group include the following revisions to the flood hazards along the James River:
- The floodway would be revised from approximately 19,740 feet upstream of Interstate 295 to approximately 26,980 feet upstream of Interstate 295. The floodway increases and decreases within the revision area along the James River.
- Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) will decrease along the James River.
- The floodplain will increase and decrease along the James River.
- BFEs will be established for a portion of the James River.
- BFEs will be established for a portion of James River Tributary 7 from Kingsland Road to approximately 930 feet upstream of Kingsland Road along James River Tributary 7. There is a decrease in BFEs from the confluence with the James River to Kingsland Road along James River Tributary 7.
- The SFHA will increase and decrease along James River Tributary 7.
Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR) – This is the approval letter from FEMA.
Technical Support Data Notebook – This includes a project summary, hydrologic and hydraulic analysis (floodplain modeling) summary, modeling results, no rise certification, and maps.
Work Map – This map shows the existing and proposed floodplain boundaries and BFEs/cross-sections, as well as the proposed development site (in Chesterfield County) and the impacted parcels.
Annotated FIRM Map – This map shows the current effective FIRM panel information with the proposed floodplain boundaries and proposed development site (in Chesterfield County).
For questions related to the economic development project that this CLOMR is associated with, please contact the Chesterfield County Environmental Engineering Department.
Most homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover flood damages. According to FEMA, one inch of water can cause up to $25,000 of damage. Because the county participates in the NFIP, all county residents are eligible to purchase flood insurance coverage, even if they don’t live in a high risk flood zone. Flood insurance coverage is available for both buildings and contents. Learn more about NFIP flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov.
In FEMA-identified floodplains, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements apply to properties utilizing federally-backed financial assistance. This includes federally-backed mortgages, loans, grants, disaster assistance, etc. In County-identified floodplains, the mandatory purchase requirement does not apply, but residents are still encouraged to protect their property. Insurance coverage may also be cheaper in County-identified floodplains. In addition to flood insurance coverage, there are some low-cost projects that you can do to protect your home from flooding.
Some property owners may be able to substantially reduce their flood insurance premiums by submitting an Elevation Certificate or retrofitting their structure to reduce potential flood damages. FEMA has several Technical Bulletins and Building Science Publications available with more information on this, such as the Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting and Floodproofing Non-Residential Buildings. The National Park Service has also released new Guidelines for Flood Adaptation for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings in 2019.
Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program
Occasionally, Congress or FEMA will make changes to the NFIP that may impact flood insurance requirements and premium rates. In 2012, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act was passed. This Act brought significant changes to the NFIP, including increased premium rates for many older structures in the SFHA and increased minimum deductibles. In 2014, the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was passed. This delayed some of the increases in flood insurance premiums, but added fees and surcharges. More information on flood insurance rules, regulations, and legislative reform is available on FEMA’s website. The NFIP is currently revising its process for rating flood insurance policies as part of Risk Rating 2.0. Risk Rating 2.0 implementation will begin on October 1, 2021.