It’s a good idea to determine the risk your property has of flooding. Is your house next to a creek or storm drain channel? Is it located at the low-point of a roadway or at the bottom of a hill? These are indications that flood insurance may be a good idea.
Mortgage companies usually require flood insurance for homes and businesses in the floodplain. Homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding caused by stormwater.
Keep in mind that people outside of floodplain areas file more than 20% of flood insurance claims and receive about one-third of disaster assistance, when it is available.
For more information about who must purchase flood insurance, download FEMA’s Mandatory Purchase of Flood Insurance Guidelines booklet.
In regard to lowering your premium, you may already be getting a 20% discount because of the steps Austin takes to guard against flooding. In addition, there may be some improvements that you can make to protect your house or business from flooding. For more information, call our hotline at 512-974-2843 or send an email.
An elevation certificate may also be helpful. Prepared by a surveyor or engineer, elevation certificates show the elevation of your home in comparison with the expected elevation of floodwaters. If the certificate shows that the lowest floor elevation in your house is above the expected inundation levels, it should lower your insurance premium. The City may already have one on file for your house or business, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy. Please use FloodPro to look up whether we have a certificate on file or you may contact us by phone or email.
Download these FEMA publications to find out more about protecting your property:
- Protecting Manufactured Homes from Floods and Other Hazards
- Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your Home from Flooding
- Engineering Principles and Practices for Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures
- Above the Flood: Elevating your Floodprone House
- Protecting Building Utilities from Flood Damage
A drainage easement is a part of your property where the City has limited rights of access and/or use. Generally, you cannot make any improvements in a drainage easement. That means no fences, sheds, walls, trails or buildings. You should avoid planting trees or much landscaping as well.
A drainage easement has two possible purposes. It may be needed for the flow of storm water. For example, drainage ditches and creeks are typically within a drainage easement. In this case, anything that prevents the flow of water; that might catch debris; that might be washed away; or that might cause a dam-like effect is problematic.
Alternatively, the easement may be needed to access drainage infrastructure. In this case, anything that might make it difficult to drive a truck through or dig up an underground pipe is problematic.
We look at a number of factors, including safety and cost. Some questions we ask are:
- What is flooding? Is it a house, a yard or a street that is flooding?
- Are there multiple properties in the same area that are flooding?
- Is there a safe way in and out of the neighborhood during a flood?
- Could improvements to the City’s infrastructure help with this problem? Would increasing the capacity of the storm drain system or raising the roadway help?
- Is there a cost-effective solution?
- Is the problem potentially life threatening?
- Is there a nearby erosion or water quality issue that could also be addressed with a project?
- Is the flooding likely to happen again?
We usually receive grant funding for buyouts, and the process depends on the type of grant. Usually, buyouts are voluntary. We will first get an independent appraisal. We will use this to make an offer based on fair market value. If the property owner accepts the offer, we will then help locate comparable housing. After closing, we will demolish the house that was bought and maintain the land as open space. There will be no future development on that piece of land.
Keep monitoring the situation and get ready to potentially evacuate or move to the second floor or roof. The flooding may get much worse very fast. In Austin, our creeks can rise several feet in just a few minutes. Keep in mind that the road providing access to your home may become impassible before water enters your house. Leave before the road is flooded. Do not attempt to drive or walk through a flooded road.
If there’s time, the following steps can help limit damage:
• Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary. • Move valuables, such as important papers, jewelry, and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations. • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach and rinsing. • Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills, and trash cans inside, or tie them down securely.
Stormwater ponds with embankments or walls higher than 6 feet are monitored by the Stormwater Pond Safety Program. These ponds are inspected regularly to ensure they are functioning properly. However, if you notice any clogging, erosion, or other problems with any pond (regardless of size), please call 3-1-1.
Call 3-1-1. The Watershed Protection Department will send someone to document the flooding. This helps us understand where projects are necessary.
Call your homeowners insurance company and follow their instructions to file a claim and repair your house. A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover damages due to flooding. Here are some precautions:
- Check for structural damage before entering your house. Don’t go in if the building might collapse.
- Do not use matches, cigarette lighters, or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Use a flashlight.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
- Look out for snakes and other animals.
- Be careful walking around. Look for nails, broken glass or other hazards. Floors may be slippery due to mud.
- Document the damage with photographs.
- Clean right away. Throw out food and medicines that may have come in contact with flood water.
- Boil water vigorously for five minutes until local authorities proclaim your water supply is safe.
- Before you start repairs, contact the Development Assistance Center at 512-974- 6370 about possible permitting requirements.
Download this FEMA publication to find out more about repairing your home: Repairing Your Flooded Home.
Please email or call 512-974-9232 and ask about the possibility of releasing this easement. We will explore whether this is feasible. If it looks like there are no obvious problems, we will direct you to fill out an application for an easement release. The release process is handled by Real Estate Services, and there is an application fee whether the request is approved or denied.
Please call 3-1-1 and report the situation. A field crew will remove a downed tree or other large debris. As far as litter is concerned, we have a partnership with Keep Austin Beautiful for adopt a creek and volunteer cleanups.
Creek flooding occurs when the water rises in a creek and starts flowing out of the banks. Local flooding is not directly associated with a creek. It occurs before the water gets to a creek when runoff from heavy rainfall overwhelms the existing storm drainage system. The stormwater may flow through streets, yards and structures as the water seeks a path to a creek. This may happen because there are not enough ditches or storm drains or because there is something blocking the flow of water.
The dam safety rules can be found in the Drainage Criteria Manual Section 8.3.4.B.
Click to download the City’s Integrated Pest Management Plan for Stormwater Ponds (4.7 MB PDF). (link: http://www.ci.austin.tx.us/watershed/downloads/spdsp_ipm_web.pdf)