Special Flood Hazard and Natural Areas

Cape Fear Arch

The Cape Fear Arch (CFA) is a region of unusual geology located between Cape Lookout in North Carolina and Cape Romain in South Carolina, extending inland beyond Fayetteville to the Sandhills Region of the Carolinas. The Cape Fear Arch is slightly higher in elevation than areas near the coast to the north and south, thus keeping it above sea level for a longer period of time, even as a peninsula when the rest of the coastal plain was submerged. These factors have helped produce an array of wet and dry habitats.  The sand and limestone deposits found on the Cape Fear Arch gave rise to unique natural communities and a diversity of plants and animals. Many of these species are endemic to the region, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. As a result, the Arch is recognized as having the greatest biological diversity along the Atlantic Coast north of Florida.

A Conservation Plan was first developed in 2009 (and later revised in 2015) that describes, evaluates, and prioritizes an interconnected network of essential core ecosystems in the Cape Fear Arch region and identifies gaps in the existing network for protection and restoration priorities. This strategic and inclusive approach to long-term planning will be provided as a tool to inform planning at regional and local levels.

Town of Navassa Floodplain Administration

The flood prone areas within the jurisdiction of the Town of Navassa are subject to periodic inundation which could result in loss of life, property, health and safety hazards, disruption of commerce and governmental services, extraordinary public expenditures of flood protection and relief, and impairment of the tax base, all of which adversely affect the public health, safety, and general welfare. These flood losses are caused by the cumulative effect of obstructions in floodplains causing increases in flood heights and velocities and by the occupancy in flood prone areas of uses vulnerable to floods or other hazards.

Therefore, is the purpose of the Town of Navassa's Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance to promote public health, safety, and general welfare and to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions within flood prone areas. The Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) refers to the land in the floodplain subject to a one percent (1%) or greater chance of being flooded in any given year.

Specifically, the SFHAs are those identified under the Cooperating Technical State (CTS) agreement between the State of North Carolina and FEMA in its FIS dated December 6, 2019 for Brunswick County and associated DFIRM panels, including any digital data developed as part of the FIS, which are adopted by reference and declared a part of this ordinance. Future revisions to the FIS and DFIRM panels that do not change flood hazard data within the jurisdictional authority of the Town of Navassa are also adopted by reference and declared a part of this ordinance.

Ordinance, Plans, and Forms

Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance 

Southeastern NC Regional Hazard Mitigation Plan

Elevation Certificate




1) Public Information Activites

This section contains pertinent information regarding the flood hazards within the Town of Navassa, guidance as to how to purchase of flood insurance, and information about ways to reduce flood damage. 

Special Flood Hazard Areas within the Town of Navassa

Zone X: Newer Flood Insurance Rate Maps show Zones B and C (see above) as Zone X. The shaded Zone X corresponds to a Zone B and the unshaded Zone X corresponds to a Zone C.

Zone B: Area of moderate flood hazard, usually depicted on older Flood Insurance Rate Maps as between the limits of the base and 500-year floods of the primary source of flooding. B Zones may have local, shallow flooding problems. B Zones are also used to designate areas protected by levees and base floodplains of little hazard, such as those with average depths of less than 1 foot.

Zone C: Area of minimal flood hazard, usually depicted on older Flood Insurance Rate Maps as above the 500-year flood level of the primary source of flooding. C Zones may have local, shallow flooding problems that do not meet the criteria to be mapped as a Special Flood Hazard Area, especially ponding and local drainage problems.

AE: SFHA where base flood elevations are provided. AE-Zone delineations are used on newer FIRMs instead of A# Zones.

Floodway: The channel of a river and the portion of the overbank floodplain that must be reserved in order to discharge the base flood without cumulatively increasing the water surface elevation by a designated height. The National Flood Insurance Program regulations allow construction in the floodway provided that it does not obstruct flood flows or increase flood heights. 

Floodway fringe: The portion of the Special Flood Hazard Area lying outside of the floodway.

Additional information regarding the types of SFHAs can be found here.

How to Purchase Flood Insurance

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is delivered to the public by a network of approximately 60 insurance companies and the NFIP Direct.

Floods can happen anywhere — just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage. Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is a separate policy that can cover buildings, the contents in a building, or both, so it is important to protect your most important financial assets — your home, your business, your possessions.

Flood insurance is available to anyone living in one of the 23,000 participating NFIP communities and the Town of Navassa is one of them. To purchase flood insurance, call your insurance company or insurance agent, the same person who sells your home or auto insurance. If you need help finding a provider go to FloodSmart.gov/flood-insurance-provider or call the NFIP at 877-336-2627.

How to Reduce Flood Damage

Protecting buildings that are constructed in SFHAs from damage caused by flood forces is an important objective of the NFIP. In support of this objective, the NFIP regulations include minimum building design criteria that apply to new construction, repair of substantially damaged buildings, and substantial improvement of existing buildings in SFHAs. A Technical Bulletin was released by FEMA for Flood Damage-Resistent Materials for Buildings Located in SFHAs in accordance with the NFIP

4) Warning and Response

This section focuses on the measures that protect life and property during a flood, through linking flood warning and response programs.

Emergency Response and Community Damage Assessment

In the event of an emergency, please call 911 and not the Navassa Police Department. The Brunswick County Emergency 911 Center has trained 911 operators on standby 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you in an emergency and this is the fastest way to obtain assistance from emergency response professionals.

If the Town of Navassa incurs storm damage after a weather event the town will have personnel out performing damage assessment surveys of the town once the storm has passed. To assist in this process, please call the Town Hall at 371-2432 to report fallen trees across roadways, flooding, or other pertinent storm damage. Please leave a detailed message with your name, contact information, and a description of the problem. Please do not make numerous calls regarding the same problem, because the town will respond to the issue as soon as possible.

To report a power outage please do not call the town, but call Progress Energy at 1-800-419-6356 to report the loss of power.

Household Hurricane Preparation

  1. Establish and Discuss a Family Plan
  2. Create a Disaster Supply Kit:
    • water, non-perishable food, blankets, clothing, first aid kits, prescription drugs, special items for elderly or infants, hygiene items, flashlights, batteries, weather radio, cell phones, cash, pet care items, keys, tools, important documents and identification, etc.
  3. Identify a Place to Go
  4. Secure Your Home
  5. Have a Pet Plan
  6. Click this link to find out more information on your preparations

3) Flood Damage Reduction Activies

This section focuses on existing development and how to mitigate risk.

FEMA Hazard Mitigation Assistance

FEMA's Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs provide funding for eligible mitigation activities that reduce disaster losses and protect life and property from future disaster damages. Currently, FEMA administers the following HMA grant programs:

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)
Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM)
Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA)
Repetitive Flood Claims (RFC)
Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC)

The HMA grant programs provide funding opportunities for pre- and post-disaster mitigation. FEMA’s HMA grants are provided to eligible Applicants that, in turn, provide sub grants to local governments and communities.

2) Mapping and Regulations

This section provides links to the mapped areas within the Town of Navassa as well as areas not shown on the FIRM, guidance as to how to preserve open space, how to protect natural floodplain functions, and details as to how the town is enforcing higher regulatory standards.


The following maps were created to provide an understanding of the identified SFHAs and how they are expected to be impacted in a variety of storm intensities:


Storm Surge - Slow Moving

Storm Surge - Fast Moving

Active Maps

The following links provide access to tools created to allow for users to idenfify the impacts of specific sites as well as perform sophisticated scenarios in which the flood related impacts are actively changed given the scenario.

North Carolina Flood Risk Information System (FRIS)

Flood Inundation Mapping and Alert Network (FIMAN)

National Storm Surge Hazard Maps

National Flood Hazard Layer (NFHL)

Preserving and Creating Open Space

In order for land to be considered "open space" the land must be free from buildings, filling, significant pavement, or other encroachment to flood flows. Additionally, for that open space to be considered “preserved,” there must be a signed statement from a public or creditable private owner or regulations that prohibit buildings, filling, or other encroachments on flood flows.

The Town of Navassa has been actively pursuing the acquisition, preservation, and conservation of land within the SFHA and recording the necessary land use restrictions and overarching zoning to conclude those lands and preserved open space in perpituity.

Through its Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant programs, FEMA funds the voluntary acquisition of hazard-prone properties from private owners. Property acquisition is not new for FEMA; however, the Disaster Recovery Reform Act (DRRA), signed into law on October 5, 2018, contains new requirements for the project notification process and emphasizes a community’s responsibilities regarding acquired land. As a condition of the grant, the relevant, state, tribal, territorial or local government must maintain the property as open space in perpetuity. The associated deed restriction stipulates allowable land use and other conditions for the property. The fact sheet supplements existing FEMA guidance on property acquisition projects per the DRRA.

Town of Navassa Natural Area Protection Program

Navassa’s natural resources help define the character of the town, contribute to the local economy, and provide places for recreation. The Town desires to plan and protect the natural areas, maintain clean water and air, provide open space, and grow with a quality built environment. A high quality natural and built environment will provide the Town with a distinctive rural feel and maintain a sense of place. Navassa values its rural character and does not want to lose the natural landscape to poorly planned development and strip development – common to many towns and roads in America. The Town desires to maintain a positive image and quality of life for residents and visitors.

The natural resources highlighted in this program will help Navassa to identify areas of town that are suitable for development, other areas that can support only limited development, and areas that should be protected from development. These linked maps below are helpful in characterizing a desired future land use, avoiding problems, and evaluating the impacts of proposed development on the environment.


Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitat                   Soils

Prime Fram Land Soils                                        Land Cover

Special Natural Areas and Canoe Trail         Topo and Ground Contours

Fish and Shellfish Nursery Areas                   Wetlands

Environmental Composite Map

The Cape Fear region in southeastern North Carolina is considered an exceptionally rich biodiverse area in the United States. This region hosts 50 different habitat types supporting 300 species of plants and animals. Twenty-two of these species are considered “endemic” meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. An assessment of biodiversity was completed by the State and prioritized terrestrial (land) habitats based on the presence and quality of significant natural areas, rare species, important bird areas, high quality wildlife habitat, and wetlands. Aquatic habitats were assessed based on aquatic significant natural heritage areas, native trout waters, anadromous fish spawning areas, high quality benthic communities, high quality waters, outstanding resource waters, oyster sanctuaries, shellfish harvest areas, fish nursery areas, submerged aquatic vegetation, and stream buffers. Anadromous means that fish are born in fresh water nurseries of Navassa’s creeks and rivers, spend most of their life in the sea (Atlantic Ocean) and return to the Town’s fresh waters to spawn.

For the Town of Navassa, assessed ranking areas are rated on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high). The highest rated areas in the 7 to 10 range (green colors) are along the Cape Fear and Brunswick rivers and the generally west to east along tributary feeder creeks. Along the Cape Fear River scarp are patches of lower rated areas in the 2 to 4 range. The railroad tracks and industrial parcels show as gray colors with the lowest rating at -1. Generally the interior of Navassa west of the Cape Fear River scarp show patches of medium values (tan and brown colors) in the 5 to 6 range.

A State report noted the following rare, threatened, and endangered species and are found within the Town.

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) - Listed as a state and federally threatened species due to its similarity to the American Crocodile which is sold in illegal black markets. American Alligators in Southeast North Carolinas are commonly found in freshwater or slightly brackish rivers, streams and ponds.

Shortnose Sturgeon (Acipenser brevirostrum) - Listed as a state and federally endangered species due to obstacles to freshwater spawning areas. This species lives in the brackish water of large rivers and estuaries but needs to spawn in freshwater streams.

Northern pine snake (Pituophis melanoleucus melanoleucus) - Listed as a state and federally special concern species due to loss of habitat. This non-venomous snake is not presently known in Navassa but occurred here historically.