What is Your Flood Risk?

Floods July 11, 2013 Print Friendly and PDF
Image:home_flood005.jpgIncrease your awareness of flood risk and flood zones, and identify alternatives in addressing flood risk.Flooding frequently occurs in the U.S. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) points to flooding as the cause of about 90 percent of the disaster-related property damage.
Reduce damage through moving, elevating, or relocating the house. Source: USDA Photo gallery; Bob Nichols, Image # 95cs4783

Increase your awareness of flood risk and flood zones, and identify alternatives in addressing flood risk.


Flooding frequently occurs in the U.S. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) points to flooding as the cause of about 90 percent of the disaster-related property damage. It is important to assess your home's likelihood of flooding. To determine your flood risk, go to FloodSmart.gov and click on What's' Your Flood Risk?

Flood zones A and V are in the highest risk categories. Homes in the V zones that include wave action, flooding and hurricanes are especially at risk. V Zones or velocity flood zones reflect areas that are likely to have floodwaters with the greatest velocity, such as coastal high hazard areas. For houses located in coastal areas, review the FEMA Coastal Construction Fact Sheet series #1 to 31 at FEMA.gov.

Even homes not directly in floodplains or hurricane areas may have water damage caused by snow buildup and melting, run off, urban run off and inadequate water absorption areas or drainage, ice dams, heavy rains, and other water events.

Flood protection elevation. Source: FEMA

As you assess your risk, you will see references to the base flood elevation. The base flood elevation (BFE) means that the lowest living level has a one percent chance of being equal to the BFE level or exceeded by floodwaters in any year. Note that FEMA indicates that vulnerable structures are elevated above the floodwaters associated with a 100-year storm event (one percent chance of being flooded in any one year) or the "Base Flood." FIRM maps depict the required Base Flood Elevation ("BFE"), the 500-year floodplain, and the flood insurance zones.


Options to Protect Your Home Against Flooding

When your home is in a floodplain or potential flood area, or subject to hurricanes, you may decide to

  1. move to a different house in another location having less risk of being flooded,
  2. relocate the house to another property that has less risk of being flooded, or
  3. elevate the house above flood level.

If relocating your household to another home in a lower risk area is not possible, moving or elevating your home may be alternatives. Additional options include using protective elements such as levees or berms and selecting construction materials and methods (keeping your roof on and preventing shift)to reduce damage.

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