Flooding & Floodplains
Flood Insurance: Who Needs It?
The effects of flooding do not end when the water recedes. Flood Insurance can help you get back on your feet.
Everyone living in a participating community of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can buy flood insurance. Harris County and the incorporated cities within the county are participants in the NFIP. Just because your home is not mapped within the 100-year floodplain does not mean that you are free from the potential to flood.
FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) show areas subject to flooding from a primary flooding source, typically major rivers, bayous and their tributaries, and are meant to help determine the risk of flooding for a property. However, flooding from sources that are not identified on the FIRMs is possible and occurs often in Harris County. Many homes flood because excess storm water cannot drain into a storm drainage system fast enough to prevent localized ponding from reaching the inside of a home. On a national basis, one-third of the flood loss claims are from property located outside of the mapped 1% (100-year) floodplain. This does not mean the FIRMs are wrong. It simply means that not all flooding sources are calculated when determining risk.
Know Your Risk of Flooding
It doesn't matter where you live... you could flood at ANY time!
The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA produces the FIRMs, which are based on technical analyses, studies and historical flooding information. The FIRMs contain a variety of information, including flood risk information, special flood hazard areas, Base (or 100-year) Flood Elevations, areas subject to inundation by the 1% (100-year) and 0.2% (500-year) floods along primary channels, and common physical features like streams, highways, roads and railroads. FIRMs can usually be viewed at your local community map repository site - typically, your local planning or engineering office - or you can view FIRMs by contacting your homeowners insurance agent or mortgage company. For a nominal charge, FIRMs can be ordered from FEMA.
Flood Insurance Must Be Purchased Separately
In Harris County, more homes flood annually than are destroyed by fire. If you have a mortgage, you likely have fire insurance as part of your homeowner's policy. But do you have flood insurance?
Remember that flood insurance is not included in your standard homeowner's policy - you must provide for it separately - and the cost is relatively inexpensive (especially if your home is not located in the mapped 1% floodplain). Flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and is financially backed by the federal government. Contact your insurance agent for more information about purchasing flood insurance. Having flood insurance will not keep you from flooding, but it will help you recover. So remember, everyone lives in a flood zone, but most people don't know their degree of flood risk. The District recommends that all residents carry flood insurance.