The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The primary mission of FEMA is to “reduce the loss of life and property and protect the Nation from all hazards, including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters, by leading and supporting the Nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.”

FEMA also determines flood zones, wihch in turn determine the need for flood insurance. See the Flood Insurance tab of this page for further information about flood insurance.

See the Storm Water System and the Disaster Preparation pages at the City of Albuquerque website, the Public Works page at the Bernalillo County website, or the FEMA website for more information.

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Like New Orleans, much of Old Town, downtown Albuquerque, and the Valley are below the level of the Rio Grande. This is because the river drops sediment over time, raising the riverbed. In the past, the river would eventually rise high enough that it would begin to take another path, gradually building up that new riverbed with sediment. This was not a problem until people began building in the lowlands near the river.

Beginning in the 1930s, levees were built along the river to keep the Rio Grande in its current riverbed. Additional levees were built in the 1950s and in 1997. Since the riverside levees were built, the Rio Grande has not been able to make periodic course changes. Stormwater in the low-lying areas of town is drained with the assistance of large pumps that lift the water into the Rio Grande. Unless protected by a certified levee, FEMA considers land in many of those low-lying areas to be in a floodplain.

Localized flooding (during and immediately after a heavy rainstorm) may also occur in any part of town. This may or may not mean the property is in a floodplain.

Am I in a floodplain?

You can discover how to learn the answer to this and other Frequently-Asked-Questions on the FAQs tab of this page.

Flood insurance is required for real property which FEMA has determined to be in a floodplain. To determine if your property is in a floodplain, talk to the City Floodplain Adminstrator (if your property is within City limits) or the County Floodplain Administrator (if you are outside the City limits). You’ll find the Floodplain Administrators’ contact information on the FAQs tab of this page.

See the FEMA National Flood Insurance Ratings page, and the “Floodplain Determination” section of the Grading and Drainage Plan page on the City of Albuquerque website, for more information about floodplains and flood insurance.

Is my property located in a floodplain?

If you live in Albuquerque, you can find out by contacting the City Floodplain Administrator, Rudy Rael at 924-3977 (phone), 924-3864 (fax). For outside city limits, contact the County Floodplain Administrator, Don Briggs at 848-1511 (phone), 848-1510 (fax). Please also read Floodplain Determination at the City of Albuquerque website. A portion of the South Valley was recently changed to a lesser flood zone, as described on this page of the Bernalillo County website. Bernalillo County also has a list of Floodplain Administrators for many surrounding areas.

What do the different flood zone designations mean?

Go to this FEMA webpage for the flood zone codes and answers to other FAQs regarding flood zones and floodplains.

What is a 100-year storm?

The hundred-year storm is better defined as a storm that has a one percent chance of occurring in any given year. Over a 10-year period, there is almost a 10% chance of such a storm. Over a 30-year period (the length of a typical home mortgage), there is a 26% chance of such a storm. Depending on your location in Albuquerque, a hundred-year storm is defined as between 2.2 and 2.9 inches of rain within six hours.

How is AMAFCA funded?

AMAFCA’s sole source of revenue is the ad valorem (property) tax. The capital improvement program is funding by General Obligation Bonds. A message from the Chairman of the AMAFCA Board of Directors regarding the 2014 General Obligation Flood Control Bonds can be found here. Additional funding originates from intergovernmental cooperative agreements, excess land sales, data sales, permit charges and interest.

How do I get trash cleaned up from an arroyo?

First check the Facilities Maintenance Map or AMAFCA’s Interactive Facilities Map to determine who maintains the arroyo. Then call us at 884-2215 if it is maintained by AMAFCA, or, if it is maintained by the City, call City Arroyo Maintenance at 857-8250 or City Storm Drain Maintenance at 291-6214. See the Reporting a Problem tab of the Contact Us page for more information and other contact numbers.

What mapping or design resources does AMAFCA have available for check-out?

You may check out hard drives containing digital orthophotos and digital surfaces at AMAFCA. Contact Kevin Troutman, GIS Manager, for information.

Bernalillo County has 2010, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2002, 2001 and 1999 orthophotos available for immediate download online, along with a number of shapefiles. Clicking on the desired year’s download link on the County page takes you to a page of information about that year’s orthoimagery. The actual files are obtained by clicking on “Link to Ortho Folder” at the bottom of that page, or on the years desired in this paragraph.

For more information about these datasets and others, including surface models and contours, go to Bernalillo County’s GIS Program webpage. From that page, there are links to download GIS Data, GIS Maps, Orthoimagery, the Zone Atlas, Zoning Permits, and Surface Models & Contours.

How do I make a request under the Inspection of Public Records Act?

Records subject to the Inspection of Public Records Act may be requested via email from the Records Custodian at AMAFCA, Executive Administrative Assistant Guylene Harris.

See the “Notice of Right to Inspect Public Records” for further information.

Where can I get sandbags?

Sandbags are available at certain City of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County Fire Stations. They are usually handed out empty – you will probably need to fill them yourself. Some locations have sand available.

The City of Albuquerque website has this information:

Monday – Friday between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. you can pick up a maximum of 15 empty sandbags at the City Yards located at 5501 Pino NE, Bldg F, or you can go to the following Fire Stations:

  • Station 2 at 301 High St. SE, (505) 848-1312
  • Station 623 Griegos NW, (505) 761-4035
  • Station 29 at 501 Bear Canyon NW, (505) 761-4013

*Please note: the City Yards Facility located at 5501 Pino NE does not have sand; only the above listed fire stations have bags and sand.

How do you fill a sandbag/how do you stack sandbags?

To be effective, a sandbag dike must be built correctly. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers offers these instructions on how to fill and stack sandbags. A video on the procedure.

A slide show on the proper way to use sandbags is posted here (the slide show file is about 9.4 MB in size – we recommend you right click and choose “save file as” or “save target as” to save it to your computer rather than trying to open it in your browser).

How can I get a copy of the Sediment and Erosion Design Guide?

The Sediment and Erosion Design Guide can be purchased from the AMAFCA office for $40.00 plus tax, or may be viewed online at the Bernalillo County website, here. The file is an Adobe Acrobat pdf and will open in a new tab or window. (Note the file is 43.5 MB in size – please allow time for it to download.)