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Coastal storms with waves and storm surges can quickly erode beaches, dunes, and banks and threaten homes and properties. When designing, siting, and reviewing projects on the coast, it is therefore important to take into account the potential for dangerous storm-generated wave action and flooding. The Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Studies (FISs) produced by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are the primary tools used to determine the spatial extent and magnitude of predicted flooding in a major coastal storm. This document, developed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) in cooperation with the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Flood Hazard Management Program, provides guidance on how to use these tools to better understand the potential effects of flooding on buildings, properties, and the underlying natural resource areas so that homeowners and consultants can design the safest possible coastal projects and public officials can successfully evaluate these projects to ensure they are designed to minimize storm damage, protect public safety, and reduce the financial burden on individuals and municipalities from losses due to coastal storms.
Interpreting Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Maps and Studies in the Coastal Zone (PDF, 2 MB)