Nags Head has been a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) since 1978. This program allows property owners in Nags Head to be eligible for federally-backed flood insurance. This insurance is required for property owners who are located in a designated Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and have a federally-backed mortgage.
The NFIP publishes Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) which establish Special Flood Hazard Areas within Nags Head. Property owners in these areas who have a building that is partially or wholly located in the SFHA are subject to regulations and insurance requirements of the NFIP. The Planning Department administers the regulatory requirements of the NFIP for the Town. Buildings within the SFHA must meet minimum elevation requirements established by the FIRMs and must also adhere to specific construction requirements. As part of the permitting and inspections process, staff will ensure that each building subject to these regulations meets the minimum requirements through the issuance of a floodplain development permit.
Check out the current flood maps online or view them at Nags Head’s Town Hall. Staff can assist you in determining your flood zone, base flood elevation, mitigation measures appropriate for your home, understanding your elevation certificate, and any associated regulatory requirements.
Flood Mapping Changes
Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHA) are designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and delineated on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM). Flood maps are generally updated every 10 years by FEMA. The current effective flood maps for Dare County and the Town of Nags Head were adopted in 2006. The State of North Carolina and FEMA released updated preliminary flood maps in June 2016 for all of Dare County.
The preliminary FIRM, released in June of 2016, revealed that many areas of the Town will be removed from the Special Flood Hazard Area. Additionally, the Base Flood Elevations have been significantly reduced in areas remaining in the Special Flood Hazard Area. The FIRM depicts impacts from storm surge for the 1% (or 100-year) and .2% (500-year) flood zones. However, there is concern that the FIRM does not accurately represent the overall risk of flooding in the Town.
There is an overall reduction of properties located in flood zones in the Town on the preliminary FIRM. This includes fewer properties in AE and VE flood zones and an overall increase in properties located in X flood zones, even on the oceanfront. Further, mapped base flood elevations (BFE’s) are being reduced from a current BFE of 8-10’ in the AE flood zone to 4-5’ on the preliminary FIRM. In addition, a new AO flood zone has been added to the area west of the primary frontal dune. AO flood zones only require elevation above the existing grade.
The draft preliminary maps can be viewed using the State’s FRIS (Flood Risk Information System) digital online mapping system at the following: LINK - Be sure to click the drop-down button in the upper right-hand corner and select “Preliminary” instead of “Effective to view the draft maps.
Due to a significant number of properties with known flooding histories moving into the X or Shaded X zones on the preliminary maps, a local elevation standard was developed. The local elevation standard (LES) means a locally adopted elevation level used as the Regulatory Flood Protection Elevation (RFPE) to mitigate flood hazards in the Shaded X, X, AE, AO, VE, as depicted on the FIRMs for Nags Head. In Nags Head, a local elevation standard (LES) of 12’ for areas east of NC 12 and SR 1243 and 10’ for areas west of NC 12 and SR 1243 is proposed as part of the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance adoption. The development of the local elevation standard has been a joint effort of Dare County and the Towns of Manteo, Nags Head, Kill Devil Hills, Kitty Hawk, Southern Shores, and Duck.
The Town received the Letter of Final Determination on December 19, 2019. This letter allows the Town to begin the map adoption process. From December 19, 2019, the updated map will become effective no later than 6 months after receipt of the letter. The anticipated effective date of the preliminary maps is June 19, 2020.
Documents and Resources Related to the Flood Map Change
- Joint Planning Board and Board of Commissioners Meeting to discuss Preliminary Maps and the Local Elevation Standard-
- Community Meeting on Preliminary Flood Maps and Draft Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance- Video of Community Meeting
- Maps Used to Develop the Local Elevation Standard-
- Existing Ground Elevations- depicts existing ground elevations in the Town.
- First Floor Elevations- reflects the first-floor elevations of homes in the Town (data from the NC Floodplain Mapping program; first floor represents the elevation at the bottom of the front door)
- Comparison Map of adopted FIRMS and Preliminary FIRMS-
- Local Elevation Standard (LES) FAQ
- Flood Guidance- Important Terms, Acronyms, and Flood Zone Descriptions
Community Rating System
The Town of Nags Head also participates in FEMA’s Community Rating System which is a voluntary program associated with the NFIP. Communities can conduct activities beyond the minimum requirements of the NFIP to provide property owners with reduced flood insurance premiums. Nags Head is very active in this program and, as a result, the town’s property owners receive a 20% reduction in flood insurance premiums. These activities include:
- adopting higher regulatory standards
- providing educational and outreach programs to the community
- preserving open spaces and limiting development density
- conducting capital projects and maintenance activities that reduce the impacts of storms and flooding.
For more information on the Town’s CRS program, contact Principal Planner Holly White at Holly.White@nagsheadnc.gov or at 252-449-6041.