The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) which provides insurance coverage, typically not otherwise offered, to cover flood related damages. The program establishes a category of flood zones. Flood zones are geographic areas defined by FEMA according to varying levels of flood risk. These zones are represented on a community's Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). Homeowners and renters residing in high risk flood zones, including AE, AH, AO, and VE, are typically required to purchase flood insurance.
These Zones are established for regulatory flood plain management and the establishment of risk based insurance rates. These zones do not mean that a particular property will or will not flood under differing conditions, they just mean that some areas are at a higher risk than others. FEMA reports that more than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside the high risk flood zone. Hurricane Matthew (2016) resulting in an estimated 60% of affected properties did not have insurance. Therefore, it is recommended residents and property owners in Newport News purchase flood insurance. Flooding has no boundaries and occurs in and out of designated flood zones.