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What You Should Know

The Mississippi Coastal Mapping Project is a collaborative effort among the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), county and local governments, and technical experts from the private sector and research institutions.  The study is being performed as part of FEMA’s Flood Map Modernization effort. 

You may obtain status information and view or download the Preliminary versions of the Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs) and associated Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports for Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties on a portion of the MDEQ Web site dedicated to Mississippi Map Modernization Initiative. You may also access the maps through the Preliminary DFIRMs page on this Web site.

Printed paper copies of the Preliminary, Revised Preliminary, and effective versions of the DFIRMs and FIS reports also are on file at the Community Map Repository in each community (see the Community Information page for details), and some communities have made the maps accessible through their own official Web sites.

You may view or download current effective FIRMs or DFIRMs and associated FIS reports or order printed paper copies of current effective FIRMs or DFIRMs and FIS reports from the FEMA Map Service Center Web site. You may also contact the Map Service Center by telephone, toll free, at 1-800-358-9616.

You may order paper copies of the effective maps and reports from the Map Service Center until September 30, 2009. Effective on October 1, 2009, the Map Service Center will only distribute digital versions of the maps and FIS reports To learn more about this change in FEMA policy, please visit the “Moving From Paper to Digital Flood Hazard Information” page on the FEMA Web site.

These modernized flood maps provide more detailed, reliable, and current flood hazard and risk data in digital format.  Knowing a more up-to-date picture of a community’s flood risk will allow community officials and citizens to make more informed decisions on where to build and to what height above the ground new building should be constructed. 

Compared to the existing flood maps--the current effective Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)—the flood risk may be higher—or lower—than some residents or business owners thought.  The new flood maps reflect current flood hazards resulting from an in-depth, large-scale study that re-examined the flood hazards in Mississippi’s coastal counties. 

To explain the choices that exist for those that disagree with the information shown on the DFIRMs and FIS reports or who would like to change the information shown on the current effective FIRMs-- we have created a map change options page on this Web site.

How You Should Use the New Flood Maps

As the DFIRMs are adopted by each of the communities in the three counties, they will be used for flood insurance and floodplain management/development purposes.  However, even before the DFIRMs are adopted, we encourage you to view the DFIRM panels for your community at one of the locations cited above so that you can see how the flood hazards and related risks have changed since the previously effective FIRMs were issued.

You also may want to view the maps to help you make more informed decisions about where to buy property or where to construct a new building.  Also, a property that may have been mapped in a low- or moderate-risk area (labeled Zone B, Zone C, or Zone X) on the previously effective FIRM may be mapping in a high-risk Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) on the DFIRM.  If so, and flood insurance is purchased before the DFIRM becomes effective, it could result in a lower insurance premium.  This process is known as “grandfathering,” and significant cost savings could be realized—if you purchase flood insurance before the DFIRM becomes effective.  On the Flood Insurance page, on the FEMA Web site, you will find an Information Sheet on grandfathering that you can download. You should also discuss the benefits of purchasing an insurance policy now with your insurance agent or company.

As the DFIRMs become effective, they will also supersede (for flood insurance and floodplain management purposes), the current effective FIRMs.  The DFIRMs also will replace the Katrina Flood Recovery Maps that FEMA produced in November 2005 to help State and local officials, as well as homeowners and business owners, identify flood hazards and risks and to start the recovery and redevelopment effort. .

Steps You Can Take

You can take steps to reduce your losses in the event of a flood by building outside of the high-risk SFHAs or by elevating your structure above the Base Flood Elevation.  FEMA’s Web site has tips on how to rebuild smarter and stronger and on Hurricane Katrina best practices, including best practices in Mississippi.

FEMA has developed a Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction Technical Fact Sheet Series (FEMA 499)that provides technical guidance and recommendations concerning the construction of coastal residential buildings.  You may want to review these Fact Sheets with your architect or building contractor as you make decisions regarding your new or improved home or business.

FEMA also has developed a series of useful NFIP-related documents related to the rebuilding effort that would be worth consulting.

As mentioned above, you also can protect yourself financially by purchasing flood insurance offered through the NFIP.

More Information

If you need more information or have a question, several options are available.

  • You may find your answer in the Frequently Asked Questions.
  • The Resources page contains links to Fact Sheets, brochures, and other helpful documents.
  • You can view the videos that FEMA and the State of Mississippi produced to explain the coastal analysis.
  • The Links page contains links to other resources related to Map Modernization, the NFIP, and Mississippi study production information.

If you still do not find the information you need, you can also contact one of the Map Specialists listed on the Ask the Experts page, including the project call center set up in the Long-Term Recovery Office in Biloxi.  You can reach a Customer Service Representative in the call center from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central time, Monday through Friday, at 1-866-816-2804 (toll-free number).