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Understand Your Flood Risk

We are
RESILIENT

In Harris County, flooding is our natural disaster. On average, we experience a major flood somewhere every two years - and each time our communities come together to rebuild. But being resilient is about more than rebuilding - it’s about planning ahead and creating the tools we need to make smarter, more informed decisions before, during, and after disaster strikes.

OUR CHALLENGES

RAINY CLIMATE

Harris County is prone to extreme rainfall events. We receive more annual rainfall than most other parts of Texas.

HIGH URBANIZATION

Harris County has more people than any other county in Texas. This means more buildings and roadways and fewer safe places for water to go.

GULF COASTAL PLAIN

Our region is low-lying with flat landscape, and predominately clay soils that do not absorb water very well.

HOW WE OVERCOME THEM

MANAGE THE FLOOD RISK

The Harris County Flood Control District works with entities that outfall to our systems to ensure that there will be no impact to receiving waters.

DEVISE AND IMPLEMENT FLOOD DAMAGE REDUCTION PROJECTS

Harris County’s flood control infrastructure is extensive, including more than 1,500 channels, including creeks and bayous, totaling about 2,500 miles in length.

MAINTAIN THE MOST DATA-RICH FLOOD MAPPING SYSTEM IN THE NATION

The Flood Control District is continuously improving its flood data and modeling methods in order to prevent the increase of flood risk.

Where it Rains, it can Flood.

While reducing risk is possible, eliminating risk is not. Our County must cope with the natural flooding potential in order to enjoy everything else our region has to offer. Several hundred thousand homes and businesses are located in the floodplaind, and projects to reduce the risk of flooding are estimated in the billions of dollers.






Flooding tops the list of natural
threats to our homes, businesses, and valued
property in Harris County.

where-rain-flood






Every structure in Harris County
should have flood
insurance.

INTERACTIVE MAPS

The Harris County Flood Control District uses interactive maps to visualize and examine the history of flooding in Harris County. 

Flood Loss History Since 1979
This map provides a visual representation of where all flooding claims have occurred throughout the county since 1978. A property's flood risk can be a influenced by many factors but it's important to remember that it can flood anywhere in Harris County. 
As homes are rebuilt to higher elevations and flood damage reductions projects are completed, hot spot areas may no longer be subject to frequent flooding.
Includes losses due to all types of flooding
Census tracts Census tracts in dark red contained the most structural flooding for the selected event.
Total flooded structures
CensusTrackGradient.jpg
Historical Inundation Map
The Flood Control District maintains an extensive network of water elevation gages in Harris County. Displayed are estimates of riverine flooding extents from select historical flooding events. Includes only streams with gages, not all HCFCD channels.
The FEMA 100-Year floodplain map does not represent any specific historic or future event. It represents the area that has a one in 100, or 1-percent, chance of a flood in any given year. 
Mapping includes Riverine flooding extents on gauged streams only.
Use this icon to select from some recent major flooding events.
Water Surface Elevation Gage Water Surface Elevation Gage
BlueBox.jpg Estimated Flooding Extents
Flood Loss History by Event
On average, Harris County experiences a significant flooding event every few years. But Harris County is a big place and not all of the County experiences flooding as frequently. Use this map to explore Harris County's flood history by Census Tract since 1980. 
Many of the floodplain management tools in place today such as detention requirements were established in the 1980’s. Many of the areas that flood frequently were developed before many of these floodplain practices were implemented. 
Includes losses due to all types of flooding
Layers Use this icon to select from some recent major flooding events.
Census tracts Census tracts in dark red contained the most structural flooding for the selected event.
Flooded Structures by Event
CensusTrackGradient.jpg

IT CAN FLOOD ANYWHERE IN HARRIS COUNTY
AND IT CAN HAPPEN FAST.

You do not have to liver near a bayou, lake, or river to flood. In Harris County we have 3 primary ources of flooding: Riverine, Coastal, and Community.

Riverine Flooding
Caused by rainfall runoff totals exceed the carry capacity of our bayous and creeks flooding adjacent lands.
riverine-flood-drawing.png
Coastal Flooding
Caused by high tides driven by tropical storms or hurricanes.
coastal-flood-drawing.png
Community Flooding
Can occur when rainfall intensity surpasses the ability of the local drainage infrastructure such as a storm sewer or roadside ditch.
community-flood-drawing.png
Most of the flooding is in areas developed prior to the current understanding of flood potential and prior to regulations restricting construction in flood-prone areas. Fortunately, since the 1970s, there has been flood insurance to ease the financial impact of flooding. Despite tremendous flood damage reduction projects that have indeed reduced the risk of flooding, more flood insurance funds have been paid here than in any other National Flood Insurance Program-participating community.
fema-map-thumb.jpg
fema-icon.png
Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to identify your current flood risk.

Call your insurance agent today and protect what you've built.

Even if you live in an area with low or moderate flood risk, you are 5 times more likely to experience flood than a fire in your home over the next 30 years. For many, a National Flood Insurance Program's flood insurance policy could cost less than $400 per year.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I heard a rumor that flood insurance rates were changing? Where can I find more information about this?

Referred to as Risk Rating 2.0, FEMA is focused on building a culture of preparedness by closing the insurance gap. Recognizing that purchasing flood insurance can be confusing and time-consuming, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is redesigning its risk rating plan to improve the policyholder experience. FEMA is committed to a NFIP that people value and trust; that is fair, understandable, and less complex to navigate.

Risk Rating 2.0 aims to accomplish this by leveraging industry best practices and current technology to deliver rates that are fair, easy to understand, and better reflect a property’s unique flood risk. Risk Rating 2.0 will fundamentally change the way FEMA rates a property’s flood risk and prices insurance. For more information, visit FEMA’s NFIP and Risk Rating 2.0 website

What are the project outcomes?

This project will allow the Flood Control District to understand and map flooding related to bayous, creeks and other natural drainage patterns. Additionally, the Flood Control District will be able to identify and map flooding in streets and neighborhoods on a county-wide level. The resulting data will produce a variety of flood mapping products that will allow area residents and business owners the opportunity to better understand flooding risks to support their actions and decisions in the future.

What makes this effort different from past efforts?

A major difference in this assessment will be the utilization of coupled one-dimensional/two-dimensional (1D-2D) hydraulic models. Previously, we would describe the ground beneath the floodplain in our hydraulic models at one dimensional (1D) cross-sections, and the model would make an assumption about the area between the cross-sections. In this effort, the ground beneath the floodplain will be described by a detailed two-dimensional (2D) surface instead, eliminating the guess-work between cross-sections. In addition to better describing the ground over which the floodplain flows, we can simulate rainfall falling directly onto the 2D surface and identify areas which may be at risk of flooding from water that hasn’t even reached the channel yet.

How will increases in flood risk be mitigated? And how will the Flood Insurance Rate Maps get updated once a project is completed?

Increases in mapped flood risk are expected in many areas throughout the county as a result of MAAPnext analysis and findings. In some of these cases, the Harris County Flood Control District may already be implementing a flood damage reduction strategy that will reduce this identified risk. The recently voter-approved 2018 Harris County Flood Control Bond Program has provided the funding to kick off more than 200 projects intended to alleviate flood risks throughout the county. To find out if a bond project is ongoing in your area and learn about potential benefits to your area visit the Harris County Flood Control District Bond Program website.

Keep in mind that MAAPnext results will only include the effect of projects that have been completed by the end of 2018. Flood Control District Bond Projects that are completed after the beginning of 2019 will be reflected in the maps through the FEMA Letter of Map Amendment (LOMR) process. LOMRs that are processed during the MAAPnext regulatory update phase will become effective following the release of final effective maps.

What are Flood Control District "partners?"

The Flood Control District has many ongoing projects throughout Harris County. Partnerships with federal and state agencies, local communities, and private interests play a vital role in many of those projects. These partnerships are important for the Flood Control District in setting priorities, determining community preferences, making taxpayer dollars go further and finding solutions that are the best fit for both a given project and the affected community.

When partnerships are formed, we get something greater than the sum of the individual parts. The Flood Control District strongly believes that partnerships are vital to getting the right projects done in the right way, and with proper regard for our community's values. We believe that our partnership with FEMA exemplifies this commitment.

When was the last time the flood maps were updated countrywide?

The District and FEMA work together to continuously update the flood hazard information in effect in Harris County when there are changes to our understanding of the flood risk. These changes are usually on a smaller scale than for the MAAPnext proect. The last countywide effort to update the flood maps took place over a decade ago as part of an effort known as the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project (TSARP), which was launched after Tropical Storm Allison struck Harris County in June 2001.

How will the results of the project be used?

The resulting data will produce a variety of flood mapping products that will allow area residents and business owners the opportunity to better understand flooding risks to support their actions and decisions in the future.

The project will conclude with the Flood Control District creating new flood hazard communications tools and FEMA releasing new preliminary FIRMs by the end of 2023. The Flood Control District expects many changes to be reflected in the resulting flood risk maps that will impact how future projects, new development, and their associated mitigation strategies are implemented.

What is FEMA's role as a project partner?

The Flood Control District's ongoing partnership with FEMA has led to MAAPnext, as well as the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project (TSARP), which was initiated in 2001 and resulted in new FIRMs for all of Harris County in 2007. The updated MAAPnext flood maps will be produced using the best science and technology available and will give us the best understanding yet of the extents of 100-year floodplains. The Flood Control District is participating in partnership with FEMA to deliver this effort, providing local matching funds and authorizing negotiations with expert engineering firms to support delivery of MAAPnext.

What will MAAPnext do?

Using new methodologies and technologies, the Flood Control District will provide a better understanding of flood risks throughout Harris County, including previously unmapped urban flooding (also referred to as overland, ponding, or non-riverine flooding). Since its inception in 1937, the Flood Control District has continually worked to better understand flood risk throughout the county. This project represents a transformative step in the management and regulation of Harris County’s floodplains. Recent advancements in hydrologic and hydraulic modeling software and methodologies will allow the Flood Control District to identify and evaluate flood risks in greater detail than was previously possible.

These advancements will allow the Flood Control District to understand and map flooding related to bayous, creeks and other natural drainage patterns. Additionally, the Flood Control District will be able to identify and map flooding in streets and neighborhoods on a county-wide level.

MAAPnext will develop the next generation of flood mapping. Along with new FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), additional tools will be developed for communicating the results of this project.

Will MAAPnext replace FEMA maps?

New Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Harris County will be produced as part of the MAAPnext Project. The Flood Control District is responsible for assessing flood hazards and preparing draft flood zone mapping, while the effective FIRM is produced, maintained and published by FEMA. Please visit FEMA's Map Service Center at msc.fema.gov to view the FIRM in effect for Harris County. For an official floodplain determination, please contact an insurance agent or mortgage lender.

What are the benefits to Harris County?

The overarching goal for MAAPnext is to provide you with the flood risk information you need to make important life decisions. The project will improve understanding of the risk of flooding in Harris County so that the public, local communities and emergency managers can make informed decisions to protect life and property that may be at risk during flood events. The Flood Control District expects many changes to be reflected in the resulting flood risk maps that will impact how future projects, new development, and their associated mitigation strategies are implemented.

The resulting data will produce a variety of flood mapping products that provide the information residents and business owners need to better understand flooding risks in their area.

As a homeowner, where can I find more information about what I can do to identify and mitigate my community’s flood risks?

Visit FEMA’s Homeowner’s Frequently Asked Questions site to find your property's flood map, understand flood risk zones and how to request a change to your flood zone designation, known as the Letter of Map Change (LOMC) process.

What happens if my mapped flood risk increases, and when will I know about this?

Initial MAAPnext findings and updated, preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) will not be available until spring or summer of 2022. The Flood Control District and FEMA will be partnering to implement a widespread public engagement program to ensure all communities within Harris County have the opportunity to review preliminary FIRMs and provide comments.

When FEMA releases a preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for a community, caution must be exercised in using this data. For insurance purposes, preliminary FIRMs cannot be used to make official flood determinations. The currently effective FIRM is the only official document for this purpose. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to identify your current flood risk.

If the currently effective FIRM shows your property outside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and the newer preliminary FIRM shows your property as being in the SFHA, you may want to explore your options to reduce your risk of flood damage and lower your insurance payments. FEMA offers ways of to cut your monthly insurance premium in the event your home’s mapped flood risk increases. You may want to contact your insurance agent to determine your options for purchasing a flood insurance policy.

For more information, visit FEMA’s Homeowner’s Frequently Asked Questions.

What is MAAPnext?

A partnership project between The Harris County Flood Control District (the District) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will use the most up-to-date technology and conditions to produce the County’s most comprehensive and complete set of flood hazard maps and information.

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