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Are you ready for hurricane season? Posted on June 9, 2021

In 2020, Hurricane Hanna flooded parts of South Texas.

The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June 1 through November 30, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates another active season. Last year’s hurricane season broke records by generating 30 named storms. In Texas, Hurricane Hanna triggered flash flooding in Hidalgo and Cameron counties, Hurricane Laura caused massive power outages in several East Texas counties, and Tropical Storm Beta resulted in significant flooding in parts of Houston.

Texas is no stranger to hurricane-related damage caused by high winds and even tornadoes. But some of the most catastrophic damage results from torrential rains, storm surges, and waterway flooding. Ensure your family and property are protected by asking yourself the following four questions before you’re faced with the threat of potential flooding.

Is your property in a floodplain?

Flooding can happen anywhere, but you are more prone to risk if you live in or near a floodplain. To find out if your property lies in a floodplain, you can search your address on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Map Service Center.

Each zone reflects the flood risk for that particular area. Shades on the map highlighted with light blue, orange, gray, and yellow indicate flood hazard area zones (1 percent annual chance flood zones, commonly referred to as “100-year floodplains”). However, flooding can occur in areas outside of the high-hazard areas noted on the map. In fact, about 25 percent of all submitted flood claims come from areas categorized as moderate to low risk. 

“A common misperception is that the terms 100-year flood and 100-year floodplain mean flooding will only happen once every 100 years,” said the Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB’s) Community Assistance Program Manager, Yi Chan. “In fact, a 100-year flood is an event with a 1 percent (or 1-in-100) chance of occurring in any given year.”

Over the life of a 30-year mortgage, there is a 26 percent chance of a 100-year flood occurring. The land that becomes inundated or covered with standing water during a 100-year flood is called the 100-year floodplain, or 1 percent annual chance floodplain. Chan says it’s important to remember that “technically, floodplains are everywhere because it can rain and possibly flood almost anywhere.” 

Floodplain maps should be continually updated to reflect newer impervious cover and other changes, and as a Cooperating Technical Partner of FEMA, the TWDB assists with that ongoing effort. “The agency applies for grants from FEMA to perform detailed engineering analysis to update flood risk information that FEMA then uses to update its maps for communities,” said Chan.

Do you have flood insurance?

If your mortgage loan is from a federally regulated or insured lender and your home is located within a high flood-risk area, you are required to have flood insurance. Standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage caused by a flood, but many homeowners purchase separate flood insurance policies. You are eligible to obtain flood insurance even if you aren’t located in the floodplain. If you’re a renter, consider adding a separate flood insurance policy to your renter’s insurance policy.

If you live in a community that participates in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), federally subsidized NFIP policies are available for individuals to purchase. NFIP participating communities agree to adopt floodplain management standards that protect the ways structures are built in the 1 percent annual chance floodplain. 

“In exchange, those communities are provided with disaster and other financial assistance, as well as NFIP-backed flood insurance for individuals. Both the structure itself, as well as the contents inside, are eligible for coverage,” said Chan.

To find out if your community participates in the NFIP, review the Community Status Reports in the NFIP Community Status Book

If you have questions about the National Flood Insurance Program, feel free to contact the TWDB (the state’s NFIP coordinator) at flood@twdb.texas.gov.

Have you planned for flooding?

In addition to assessing your property’s flood risk on a floodplain map and purchasing flood insurance, it’s critical to prepare for the possibility of a flood event. Here are flood preparation suggestions:

  • Make an emergency plan, including flood evacuation routes and what to do with household pets.
  • Know the location of your local storm shelter.
  • Make sure all family members know how to call 9-1-1.
  • Ensure that your family’s phones are enabled to receive Wireless Emergency Alerts. Authorities send these alerts to all phones within a certain radius of an emergency.
  • Make sure copies of important documents are in a flood-safe place.
  • Ensure that all of your vehicles have a tool for breaking glass stored within easy reach, preferably in the center console, door pocket, or glove box.
  • Make sure your sump pump is in working order before the rainy season.
  • Place all electrical appliances at least 1 foot above the projected 1 percent flood elevation.
  • Anchor your property’s fuel tanks.

And always remember: Turn Around Don’t Drown®. It only takes 6 inches of fast-moving water to knock over an adult and 12 inches of fast-moving water to carry away a small car.

Do you have an emergency kit?

Your emergency kit should contain everything you’ll need in case you have to evacuate or experience an emergency in your home. Keep this kit in a designated place and make sure all family members know where it is stored. A basic emergency supply kit could include the following items:

  • National Weather Service radio
  • Flashlight(s)
  • Candles
  • Extra batteries for both radio and flashlight
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • First aid kit
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone(s) and charger
  • Wallet/purse, cash, credit cards
  • Prescriptions and medications
  • Toiletries
  • Clothing
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food items (at least a three-day supply)
  • Manual can opener
  • Garbage bags with plastic ties
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Children’s supplies
  • Pet supplies

For more flood-related data and information on what to do before, during, and after a flooding event, visit the TWDB’s TexasFlood.org.

This article is posted in Flood / Weather .