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.
View the current flood maps at the following sites:
- North Carolina Flood Risk Information System
- Dare County Online GIS Viewer
- At the Nags Head’s Town Hall
- Call and staff can assist you
Staff can assist in the following ways:
- determining whether your property is in a flood zone
- determining the appropriate flood zone and base flood elevation
- the community number, FIRM panel number (and suffix), date of the FIRM
- mitigation measures appropriate for your home
- understanding your elevation certificate
- insurance information
Flood Mapping Changes and the Local Elevation Standard (LES)
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 June 19, 2020.
The updated FIRMs remove many properties in the Town from the Special Flood Hazard Area. 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. Additionally, Base Flood Elevations have been significantly reduced in areas remaining in the Special Flood Hazard Area. In addition, a new AO flood zone has been added to the area west of the primary frontal dune. So, be sure to check the updated FIRMS to determine how your property is affected.
Due to a significant number of properties with known flooding histories moving into the X or Shaded X zones, the Town along with other Outer Banks municipalities has developed a higher standard- a local elevation standard. 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, the local elevation standard (LES) is as follows:
- 12’ for areas east of NC 12 and SR 1243
- 9’ for areas west of NC 12 and SR 1243
For more information on the LES and other development regulations, please contact staff. The updated Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance is now available online by clicking here- Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.
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.
Other Useful Information
- Technical Bulletin 1 Flood Openings
- Technical Bulletin 2 Flood Damage-Resistant Materials
- Technical Bulletin 4 Elevator Installation
- Technical Bulletin 5 Free-of-Obstruction
- Technical Bulletin 9 Breakaway Walls
- FEMA P-936 Floodproofing Non-Residential Buildings
- FEMA P-348 Protecting Building Utility Systems From Flood Damage