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Mobile, Alabama has the unique position of being the rainiest city in the U.S. The warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico keep Mobile in a subtropical climate accustomed to thunderstorms, tropical depressions, and even hurricanes. Mobilians need to be aware of the risk of flooding and what to do in a flooding situation.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to use flood insurance as an alternative to disaster assistance   The NFIP is a federal program, managed by the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), and offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP.  Participating communities, such as the City of Mobile, agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.  The three (3) tenets to the NFIP are as follows: 

  • Mapping
  • Insurance
  • Regulation

Below is the link to the FEMA’s NFIP website:

1. Mapping

Knowing the nature of Mobile and its climate, it is important to understand the flooding risks for a home or business. Some areas of Mobile are highly susceptible to flooding, while others may not be as prone.  These varying flooding risks also mean that areas have differing FEMA required risk reduction standards. Use the FEMA flood map for the City of Mobile to locate a property and its flood designation. FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) are available for public viewing at the FEMA Map Service Center website

City of Mobile Flood Mapping

How to Read a Flood Map

Zone Means a geographical area shown on a flood hazard boundary map or a flood insurance rate map that reflects the severity of type of flooding in the area.

 X Zones (Shaded) – are areas of two-tenths (0.2) percent chance flood that are outside of the SFHA subject to the one (1) percent chance flood with average depths of less than one (1) foot, or with contributing drainage areas less than one square mile and areas protected by certified levees from the base flood

X zones (Unshaded) Areas determined to be outside the two-tenths (0.2%) percent chance floodplain.

Floodway (regulatory Floodway) means the channel of a river or other watercourse and the adjacent land areas that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation more than one (1) foot.


Special flood hazard area (SFHA) means that portion of the floodplain subject to inundation by the base flood and/or flood-related erosion hazards as shown on a FHBM or FIRM as Zones A, AE, AH, AO, AR, AR/AE, AR/AO, AR/AH, AR/A, A99, or VE.

A – Area of special flood hazard without Base Flood Elevations determined.

AE – the Area of special flood hazard with Base Flood Elevations determined.

VE – Coastal high hazard area means the area of special flood hazard, extending from offshore to the inland limit of the primary frontal dune along an open coast and any other area subject to high velocity wave action from storms or seismic sources.  The areas is designated on the flood insurance rate map (FIRM) as zone V1-30, VE or V.

For more information on how to read a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), go to the FEMA website.

2. Insurance

Flood insurance policies are available for owners and renters and are obtained through local property insurance agents. A flood insurance policy may also be obtained from private insurance companies via the “Write Your Own” (WYO) Program or through a “direct” policy from FEMA (NFIP Direct Servicing Agent).  

Here is a link to the locate flood insurance providers:  FloodSmart | Flood Insurance Provider View

If you have a question about flood insurance, contact your insurance agent, the NFIP Direct Servicing Agent, or the FEMA website at to learn more.

3. Regulations

How and where you build To verify that a building has been constructed to the required regulatory elevation , the City of Mobile enforces FEMA’s regulations and requires the completion of an "Elevation Certificate" by a Professional Engineer, Architect,  or Professional Licensed Surveyor.  FEMA regulations, which the City enforces, require Elevation Certificates at multiple stages of construction.  The Elevation Certificates are part of the permit record, and the final Elevation Certificate must be approved before the building may be occupied. 

 Build Mobile

Storm Preparedness Resources

In addition to flood insurance, there are several things you can do to prevent losses in your home or business and ensure the safety of family and employees

It is pivotal to make a flood plan for when/if the need comes, prior to a disaster event occurring. 

Please see the websites below on how to develop plans:

How to Assemble a Disaster Survival Kit: 
For guidance on how to prepare a disaster survival kit, refer to the following websites:

What to tell Children

For tips on discussing flooding and natural disasters with children, please refer to the resources below:

What to Do if You Are Driving During a Flood

Driving through flood waters is extremely dangerous.  Most fatalities from flooding occur when people are trapped in their vehicle.  

Be aware of potential hazards on the road.

For more tips on driving and flood waters, see NOAA’s Flooding Safety Card (PDF):

This card can be printed and stored in your vehicle. 

“Turn around don’t drown!”™

What to Do After a Flood

Check with Build Mobile on Verbiage… (COME BACK TO)

Contact Utility Companies

What to Do After Returning Home:

  • If you evacuated, return to your home only after local authorities have said it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid driving through flooded areas and standing water. As little as six inches of water can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Avoid wading in floodwater, which can be contaminated and contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
  • Upon entering the building, do not use matches, cigarette lighters or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Instead, use a flashlight to light your way. 
  • Be aware of the risk of electrocution in your home. Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. Turn off the electricity to prevent electric shock if it is safe to do so.

Water Safety

  • Do not drink flood water, or use it to wash dishes, brush teeth, or wash/prepare food. Drink clean, safe water.
  • Listen for boil water advisories. Local authorities will let you know if your water is safe for drinking and bathing.
  • During a water advisory, use only bottled, boiled, or treated water for drinking, cooking, etc.
  • When in doubt, throw it out! Throw away any food and bottled water that comes/may have come into contact with floodwater

Call Your Insurance Agent to Start a Claim

Cleaning - Center for Disease Control Guidance

  • See  Practice safe cleaning. Remove and throw out drywall and insulation that was contaminated with floodwater or sewage. Throw out items that cannot be washed and cleaned with a bleach solution: mattresses, pillows, carpeting, carpet padding, and stuffed toys.
  • Save samples or swatches of carpeting, wallpaper, furniture upholstery, window treatments and other items where the type and quality of material may impact the amount payable on your insurance claims.
  • Wear heavy work gloves, protective clothing and boots during clean up and use appropriate face coverings or masks if cleaning mold or other debris
  • People with asthma and other lung conditions and/or immune suppression should not enter buildings with indoor water leaks or mold growth that can be seen or smelled. Children should not take part in disaster cleanup work.
  • You may need a permit before starting repairs on your home. Contact your local city or parish offices.

Other Dangers

  • Be aware that snakes and other animals may be in your house.
  • Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning. Use generators or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors at least 20 feet from any doors, windows, or vents. If you use a pressure washer, be sure to keep the engine outdoors and 20 feet from windows, doors, or vents as well. Never run your car or truck inside a garage that is attached to a house even with the garage door open.
  • The initial damage caused by a flood is not the only risk. Standing floodwater can also spread infectious diseases, bring chemical hazards, and cause injuries.

State of Alabama Emergency Operations Plan 

Flood Facts

  • 6” of fast-moving water can knock an adult off their feet.
  • 6” of water will reach the bottom of most passenger vehicles – causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • 18” of water will float most cars…2’ can float SUVs and trucks.
  • Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters outside of fire. 
  • 90% of all presidential-declared U.S. natural disasters involve flooding 
  • Communities, particularly, at risk are those in low lying areas, coastal areas, or downstream from large bodies of water 
  • There is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage (more than 6 times the likelihood of a fire) 
  • 1‘of water in a $150,000 residential home can cause more than $54,000 in damages.
  • Flood damage is virtually never covered by standard homeowner’s insurance. 
  • Flood insurance purchased through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is relatively inexpensive (the average premium for $100,000 coverage is a little over $300 per year at this writing). 
  • Names of bodies of water that may affect Mobile  
    • Dog River
    • Three Mile Creek
    • Bayou Sara
    • Eight Mile Creek
    • Halls Mill Creek 
    • Chickasaw Creek
    • Miller’s Creek
    • Mobile Bay
    • Mobile River
    • Muddy Creek
    • Pierce Creek


  • Community Number: A 6-digit designation identifying each NFIP community.  The first two (2) numbers are the state code.  The next four (4) are the FEMA-assigned community number.  An alphabetical suffix is added to a community number to identify revisions in the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for that community.   The City of Mobile’s Community Number is XXXXXX.
  • Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM): An official map of the City, on which the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has delineated both the areas of Special Flood Hazard Areas and/or risk premium zones applicable to the City of Mobile.
  • Floodplain: Any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source.
  • Freeboard: An additional amount of height above the Base Flood Elevation used as a factor of safety (e.g., 2 feet above the Base Flood) in determining the level at which a structure’s lowest floor must be elevated or floodproofed to be in accordance with state or community floodplain management regulations.  The City of Mobile does not currently have an added Freeboard.
  • Panel Number: Panel number is a numerical designation used to identify the FIRM Map associated with a given area.  The first six digits of the Panel number is the community number.  The first four (4) digits represent the map panel, and the letter suffix represents the number of times the map panel has been revised.
  • Panel Date: This is the date recorded in the FEMA FMSIS database, which is associated with the given Panel Number.
  • Repetitive Loss Property:
    Means flood-related damages sustained by a structure on two (2) separate occasions during a ten-year period for which the cost of repairs at the time of each such flood event, on the average, equals or exceeds twenty-five (25) percent of the market value of the structure before the damages occurred.

Contact Information


Websites and Imagery for flood page for website -Maitland