Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the federal agency charged with building and supporting the nation's emergency management system.                              

FEMA is active:

  • Advising on building codes and flood plain management...
  • Teaching people how to get through a disaster...
  • Helping equip local and state emergency preparedness...
  • Coordinating the federal response to a disaster...
  • Making disaster assistance available to states, communities, businesses and individuals...
  • Training emergency managers...supporting the nation's fire service...
  • Administering the national flood and crime insurance programs...

The range of FEMA's activities is broad indeed and spans the life cycle of disasters.  The City's involvement with FEMA is primarily flood related. 

Did you know, Lake Elsinore is the largest natural lake in Southern California.  Adjacent to the lake and streams and channels in the City are natural beneficial low-lying areas know as floodplains and floodways. These areas are used to store and discharge flood waters and have a one-in-100 chance of becoming flooded in any year. Sources of flood waters include Arroyo del Toro, Outlet Channel, Leach Canyon, and Lime Street Channels, Lake Elsinore, McVicker Canyon, Ortega Wash and Channel, Rice Canyon, San Jacinto River, Temescal Wash, and Wasson Canyon Creek. The potential for flooding is greatest from October through April during the rainy season.  Large volumes of rain (10 plus inches) over a period of a couple of weeks can cause flooding.    Historically, the areas that have experienced flooding are those adjacent to one of the sources of flood waters.




In the event danger of flooding exists, warnings will be announced by your local radio station, newspaper and television stations.  The City will also place warning messages on the City telephone (951-674-3124) and web site. 

The City participates in Riverside County's 'reverse 911' notification system.   The system that uses telephones to alert residents and businesses in Riverside County who are affected, threatened, or might be endangered by an emergency event or a disaster.  Published telephone land lines are automatically included; other telephone numbers (cell) must be added to receive the notice.  If you would like more information or to add a telephone number to the system, visit the County's RivCoReady.org website.


Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Flood effects can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states.  FEMA has mapped most of the City of Lake Elsinore for flood hazard purposes.  Those hazards include flash flooding, and Lake flooding.  Areas that have not been mapped in the opinion of FEMA, have not experienced the level of flood loss required to warrant mapping. 

FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) are used by the City as guidelines for applying adopted floodplain management ordinances and building codes to new and existing construction.  They are also used by lenders and others in determining flood insurance requirements.  You can access these maps from home through the FEMA Map Service Center.  "Reading a Flood Insurance Rate Map" handout is available to aid you in reading the maps.  Flood Insurance Studies provide technical information in support of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps.  Contact an Engineering Technician if you would like to view the studies.

If you live in the City, the City Engineering Division can assist you in determining whether or not your property lies within a special flood hazard area. (SFHA)  Contact an Engineering Technician at 951-674-3124 for assistance.  When you call, have your street address and/or assessors parcel number (9 digits) ready.



Once a structure or substantial improvement to an existing structure located in a special flood hazard area is completed, an Elevation Certificate is required to 1) confirm the building is at or above the base flood elevation and 2) to reduce or eliminate the requirement for flood insurance.

FEMA's new Elevation Certificate (EC) was approved for use, effective July 7, 2015 through November 30, 2018.  Elevations certified on or after July, 2015, must be submitted on the new form.

The City Engineering Department maintains a copy of approved Certificates and if available, will provide you with a copy upon request.  Contact an Engineering Technician for assistance.

  • What's New?
    • Section A adds items A8.d and A9.d to identify whether the enclosure, crawlspace, or garage has engineered flood openings.
    • Section C now captures the lowest adjacent grade at lowest elevation of deck or stairs, including structural support. This information is required if the EC is being used to support a request for a LOMA or LOMR-F.  FEMA has tutorials to assist you in preparing a LOMA or LOMR-F.
    • Instructions for Section A for items A.8.b-c and A.9.b-c have been revised, in part, to allow the height of flood openings to be determined from the interior grade or floor.
    • Instructions for other sections have been clarified and expanded, as needed.
    • Two new Building Diagrams have been added:
      • The new Diagram 1B is for raised-slab-on-grade or slab-on-stem-wall-with-fill single- and multiple-floor buildings. (Diagram 1 from the old Elevation Certificate is Diagram 1A on the new Elevation Certificate.)
      • The new Diagram 9 is for all buildings (other than split-level) elevated on a subgrade crawlspace.
    • Elevation Certificate (includes 8 building type diagrams for determining reference levels) (PDF 306 KB,) - includes directions for completion of document.

    The EC form and instruction packet are available by clicking on  "PDF" or "DOC" above or from the FEMA Distribution Center at 800-237-3239 (ask for FEMA Form 81-31).


    Information and staff assistance is available to answer many of your questions whether you own a structure or are considering building a structure in a special flood hazard area.  Some that you may find helpful include:

    At FEMA's website you will find these and other informative brochures and technical bulletins to help you be prepared. 


    The City has taken steps to help lessen flood losses.  As a result of the City's efforts, Lake Elsinore residents in Special Flood Hazard Areas are entitled to a 10% reduction in the premiums they pay for required flood insurance. 

    The City has been instrumental in the construction of:

    • flood channels - Leach Canyon Channel, Ortega Channel, McVicker Canyon Channel
    • levees - Lake Elsinore Back Basin Levee, Rice Canyon Levee
    • outflow and inflow channels - Lake Inlet Channel, Outlet Channel (aka Temescal Creek)

    These drainage systems were designed to move potential flood waters safely to the Lake, but must be kept clear of obstructions to function.

    The City has adopted laws to manage development in flood prone areas.  Those laws include review, approval and permit issuance of proposed development in the floodplain by the City Planning and Building Divisions and Engineering Department.

    There are steps you can take to lessen losses in the event of a flood.  The City has prepared handouts to assist you.

    Steps outlined in the handouts include keeping natural drainage courses, streams and drainage channels clear of structures and debris and how to report dumping or debris in these drainage systems.   Call 951-674-3124 to make a report. 



    The City of Lake Elsinore is a member of the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP), Community Rating System (CRS); the City’s current CRS rating qualifies the community for a 10% discount in the premium cost of flood insurance for NFIP policies issued or renewed in SFHA’s..

    Everyone benefits from the City’s participation in CRS. Even when there is no flooding, the City’s public information and floodplain management efforts can improve the quality of life, protect the environment, make people safer, and save everyone money. If you live or own property in a SFHA, NFIP flood insurance premium rates are adjusted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the City’s activities that meet the goals of the CRS. More details about the CRS program are available on line at http://www.fema.gov/pdf/nfip/manual200605/19crs.pdf.


    This community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes federally backed flood insurance available for all eligible buildings, whether they are in a floodplain or not. Flood insurance covers direct losses caused by surface flooding, including a river flowing over its banks, a lake or ocean storm, and local drainage problems.

    The Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973 and the National Flood Insurance Reform Act of 1994 made the purchase of flood insurance mandatory for federally backed mortgages on buildings located in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs). If the building is in a SFHA, the Federal agency or lender is required by law to require the recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building.

    It generally takes 30 days for flood insurance to take affect, so plan ahead, don't wait for the 'rainy' season to apply.  More information on flood insurance can be found in a handouts prepared by the City.

  • National Flood Insurance Program
  • Information for Lenders, Insurance Agents, Realtors
  • Check Before You Buy - Home Flood Risk Brochure


    Real time data is available through the Unites States Geologic Survey (USGS) web site.


    If you have any questions, please contact an Engineering staff member at 951-674-3124, ext. 248 or 245

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