Flood Safety


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

FEMA is active in:

  • Advising on building codes and floodplain 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
  • 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

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

Free Sandbags provided at Public Works

sandbags pallet

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 website.

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 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.  "Flood Insurance Rate Map" Tutorial 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.

Information 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

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. View the following laws:

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

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 Program

What You Should Know

Definition / Description

A community's permit file must have an official record that shows new buildings and substantial improvements in all identified Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs, aka 100-year flood zones) are properly elevated. This elevation information is needed to show compliance with the City's Flood Damage Prevention and Floodplain Management Ordinances. Once a structure or substantial improvement to an existing structure located in a special flood hazard area is completed, the City requires property owners to use the Elevation Certificate developed by FEMA to confirm the building is at or above the base flood elevation and to reduce or eliminate the requirement for flood insurance.   

NFIP Requirement

NFIP stands for the National Flood Insurance Program. In 2009, the City became a member of the NFIP's Community Rating System (CRS). Participation in the CRS allows the City to earn points for various FEMA activities aimed at reducing flood losses; the points enable City residents to receive a discount on flood insurance premiums. Requiring Elevation Certificates is one CRS activity that earns the City points. The Elevation Certificate is used to make sure new development and substantial redevelopment are meeting the City's minimum elevation requirements for properties in special flood hazard areas. It is completed and submitted to the City for review and approval.

The City Engineering Division is the official repository for Elevation Certificates. They are reviewed annually by a FEMA representative.  You can also view the approved Elevation Certificates

National Flood Insurance Program

Existing homes and businesses

Typical homeowners or renters' insurance policies do not include flood insurance coverage and there is a 30-day waiting period for coverage.   If your property is located in a 100 year special flood hazard zone (area with a 1% chance of flooding in any year) as determined by FEMA, all federally insured loans will require flood insurance unless:

  • Your home / building has been elevated during construction so that it is no longer at risk
  • Your home / building has been constructed using flood resistant materials

Whether you are a homeowner, lender, real estate agent, or a business owner, you can find more information about the National Flood Insurance Program; The FEMA Elevation Certificate and/or FEMA Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) are the tools you as a single family homeowner or property owner can use to show your lender / insurer that the building located on the property is no longer at risk or at reduced risk for the 100 year flood event. FEMA may charge a fee for review of LOMA's.   Contact the City Engineering Department at 951-674-3124, or the Elevation Certificate web page to find out if the City has an elevation certificate on file for your property.

**Please note that some lenders may require flood insurance as a condition of the loan; that is their right as lender.

New Construction - BUILD RESPONSIBLY

The City requires new construction or substantial reconstruction/improvements to comply with the existing Floodplain Ordinance.

Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance 1372, Chapter 15.64 

Floodplain Management Ordinance 1105, Chapter 15.68

Compliance includes elevation of the finished floor to the existing base flood elevation or higher and may require submittal to FEMA of a Conditional Letter of Map Revision (CLOMR), Conditional Letter of Map Amendment (CLOMA) and a Letter of Map Revision, Letter of Map Revision based on Fill, and Letter of Map Amendment (LOMR, LOMR-F and LOMA respectively). FEMA may charge a fee for review.