Flooding & Floodplains

As of 03/27/2019

Get Flood Insurance

Everyone needs it.

Harris County Flood Control District recommends that all Harris County residents become informed about their flood risk and have flood insurance no matter where they reside in Harris County.

> Learn more about the countywide floodplain remapping effort

Harris County and the incorporated cities within the county are participants in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Everyone living in a participating community can buy flood insurance through the NFIP. Therefore, if you live in Harris County, you are eligible to purchase a flood insurance policy through the NFIP!

You cannot buy flood insurance directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you’re interested in purchasing flood insurance, your homeowners, renters, or business insurance agent may be able to help you. You can also contact the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661.

> Learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

Readiness. Recovery. Resiliency.

The devastating effects of flooding do not end when the stormwater recedes after a flood event. Flood insurance accelerates the rebuilding and replacement of personal property and fosters community resiliency as a whole. 

Needed or Required? Know the difference.

Congress has mandated that federally regulated or insured lenders require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located within the 100-year floodplain.

The 100-year floodplain can be located on the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). 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 due to that one flooding source.

> Interactive Map: Do you live in a FEMA Mapped floodplain? 

Property owners who are mortgage-free, but own a home or business in the 100-year floodplain and those with a home or business outside the 100-year floodplain are not required to purchase flood insurance. However, those structures outside of the 100-year floodplain in Harris County are still at risk of flooding from multiple sources. Flood insurance premiums for those structures outside of the 100-year floodplain are typically cheaper than rates for homes and businesses within the 100-year floodplain

Hurricane Season: June-Nov | Flood Season: Year-round

Remember, floods can happen at any time, and you do not have to live in the 100-year floodplain to be at risk of flooding. In fact, many flood loss claims in Harris County are located outside of the mapped 100-year floodplain.

68% of Harvey Flood Claims were located outside of 100-Year Floodplain

Flood loss claims as a result of Hurricane Harvey are even more staggering with approximately 68% (2/3) of structural damages reported outside of the mapped 100-year floodplain. This reinforces the fact that flooding from sources other than channels and bayous are a major threat in our region

  • Not all streams in Harris County have been studied to determine their stormwater carrying capacity and therefore the flood risk to surrounding property is unidentified.
  • On those rivers, bayous, and tributaries for which we have determined the risk of flooding and mapped flood risk zones, flooding can still exceed the 100-year levels, and even the 500-year levels in large events like Hurricane Harvey.
  • New studies of rainfall patterns (Atlas 14) suggest that the current FIRMs for Harris County may not accurately represent the bounds of the 100-year and 500-year floodplains.
  • Many homes flood during heavy rain events because excessive stormwater simply cannot make its way to storm sewers quickly enough. Instead, the runoff water pools in the streets and, given enough rain, floods homes and businesses.
  • Storm sewer inlets can become clogged by debris causing accelerated accumulation of stormwater in neighborhoods.
  • Stormwater sometimes travels overland to reach a creek or bayou, flooding structures along the way that are not near a creek or a bayou.

Homeowners Insurance Does NOT include Flood Coverage

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?

There are several things to keep in mind when considering purchasing a flood insurance policy:

  • Floods are Harris County’s number one natural hazard.
  • Flood insurance can be the difference between recovering and being financially devastated.
  • The damage from just one inch of water can cost more than $20,000.
  • NFIP provides flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners.
  • There are two components to the flood insurance policy. Coverage for your building is designed to pay for the necessary repair or replacement of flood damaged structural components—for example, walls, floors, heating and cooling systems, large appliances, cabinets and or attached bookcases. The maximum building property coverage you can purchase is $250,000. Flood insurance contents coverage protects your personal property, such as clothing, furniture, small appliances, bedding and other items in the home. The maximum contents coverage you can purchase is $100,000.
  • Flood insurance typically takes 30 days to take effect.

> VIDEO: Learn more about Flood Insurance

Additional Sources

  • Learn more about Flood Insurance at Floodsmart.gov
  • The NFIP Help Center can answer general inquiries about flood insurance, 800-427-4661
  • Contact Ask the Expert by email at floodsmart@fema.dhs.gov