FEMA Flood Maps to be Updated

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Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. To reduce the impacts of flooding on communities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) periodically updates Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which are used by the City of Hillsboro to manage development through our Community Development Code Regulatory Floodplain Overlay as well as by companies that offer flood insurance under the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA has updated Washington County’s flood maps, and the City of Hillsboro is required to enact the new maps in order for property owners in Hillsboro to continue to be eligible for federal flood insurance.

How do I determine if my home or business is in the floodplain?

Please contact Sarah Bruce at 503-681-6214 or sarah.bruce@hillsboro-oregon.gov. The regulatory floodplain is the area that is expected to be flooded if the area receives a very large amount of rain, inundating our creeks and nearby low-lying areas (the “100-year flood event”). Note that the floodplain boundary indicates an annual probability of flooding of AT LEAST 1%; the closer a property is to a waterway, the greater the likelihood of flooding.

If you live in a 100-year floodplain, there is more than a 1 in 4 chance that you will be flooded during your 30-year mortgage, 27 times more likely than a fire. Also, flooding can and does occur outside of the regulatory floodplain, although it is less likely. Affordable flood insurance that reflects this lower risk area is available.

What are the impacts of the change?
  • Certain small areas of the City that used to be considered “in the floodplain” are no longer, and landowners in those areas may no longer be required to carry flood insurance.
  • Some areas that were not in the regulatory floodplain before were brought into it, and landowners who were not formerly required by their lenders to carry flood insurance may now be required to obtain it. If the mortgaged structure coincides with the regulatory floodplain and is financed with a federally backed mortgage, the property owner will likely be required to carry flood insurance.
  • Flood insurance rates may change on existing policies for structures in the regulatory floodplain.
More about flood insurance

Conventional homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies do not cover flood losses. Structures in the regulatory floodplain that are financed with federally backed mortgages are required to be insured against flood losses. There are potentially discounted rates for being “newly mapped” into the floodplain. Flood insurance is available for personal property as well as for structures.

Flood insurance rates can vary based on characteristics of the structure. Visit  FloodSmart.gov to learn more about insurance, premiums, and ways to lower rates. Flood insurance is available and advisable for property that is prone to flooding regardless of whether a lender requires it or whether the official FEMA maps show the property as within the regulatory floodplain.

Development and flood risk

The City has been using the updated flood maps to evaluate and manage new development since their release as preliminary data in the mid-2000s. The City also requires a 1-foot “freeboard,” or margin of safety, for buildings in the floodplain, which further helps reduce flood damages.


Project contact
For more information, contact Sarah Bruce in the Planning Department, by email at sarah.bruce@hillsboro-oregon.gov or by phone at 503-681-6214.