The City of Tempe is one of 20,000 cities nationwide that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Therefore, Tempe has adopted and is enforcing floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters, and business owners in these communities.
Within participating communities, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA )is responsible for determining the extent to which flooding might threaten any given area of land. Flooding threat classifications run from minimal to severe, with severe areas categorized as "Special Flood Hazard Areas" (SFHAs).
Special Flood Hazard Areas
The SFHA is also known as the 100-year floodplain. It is more precisely defined as the floodplain associated with a flood that has a 1 percent annual chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. Therefore, the SFHA is not a flood that happens once in a hundred years; rather, it’s a flood that has a 1 percent chance of occurring every year. Thus, a 100-year flood could occur more than once in a relatively short period of time. Based on this formula, structures located in SFHAs have a 26 percent chance of being flooded over the course of a 30-year mortgage.
Is Flood Insurance Required by Law?
In order to obtain secured financing to buy, build or improve structures located in Special Flood Hazard Areas, owners are required to purchase flood insurance. Federally regulated lenders are required by law to determine whether the structure is located in a SFHA and must provide the buyer with written notice that flood insurance will be required. In other words, properties that are located in Special Flood Hazard Areas and do not have flood insurance will not be granted a loan.
Tempe flood hazard areas, which are primarily in and around the Salt River bed and adjacent to elevated canals or railroads, are shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps. To find out if you are in or near a Special Flood Hazard Area call 480-350-8288 or visit the Engineering Division Office in the Tempe City Hall complex at 31 E. 5th Street. Elevation Certificates are required to be submitted to the City of Tempe Engineering Division for new structures and major additions to existing structures located in identified flood hazard areas; those forms and instructions are available from FEMA.
Large or small floods have a chance of occurring at any time and can create a significant hazard to people and property. Property owners interested in purchasing flood insurance should contact their personal insurance carrier for coverage and pricing.
How to obtain a Flood Zone Determination with the City of Tempe
How to report a flooding problem with Maricopa Flood Control District
Also, if you have experienced flooding you are encouraged to make a report and upload pictures or videos to the Maricopa County Flood Control District’s “Report a Flood” website at www.reportaflood.org. This will allow the City of Tempe and the Maricopa County Flood Control District to be aware of potential flooding issues and potentially help determine possible solutions.
Unofficial Maricopa County Flood Control District Floodplain Maps
FEMA Map Service Center
FEMA Requirements for applying for an Elevation Certificate (see PDF), or visit website: