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
The City conducts engineering studies to determine the extent of the regulatory floodplains. We use historical rainfall information, aerial photography, ground surveys, and engineering computer software to complete these studies. We update floodplain studies about every 10 years.
• Risk of Property Damage: If your home is in the 100-year floodplain, it has a 26% chance of being flooded over the course of a 30-year mortgage. There are steps you can take to reduce property damage. For more information, visit www.floodsmart.gov, explore our FAQs or call our hotline at 512-974-2843.
• Safety: Flooding can be deadly. Monitor the weather, consider purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio and prepare a family disaster plan. Learn more about where the floodplain is located on our interactive floodplain map. For more information about flood safety, visit our Flood Safety and Preparedness page.
• Restrictions: Stricter permit regulations apply for any building, remodeling, construction or other development on properties in the floodplain. In some cases, it may be impossible to get a permit. For more information on restrictions, go to Floodplain Development Information.
In some cases, the area of land subject to flooding has not changed, but we have now have better information to base predictions on where the flooding is likely to occur. During floodplain studies, we gather more information about topography, elevations, bridges and the amount of impervious cover.
The City does not grandfather development from using the best available floodplain information. If your property is shown to be in the floodplain with the new study, then you may be grandfathered for flood insurance premiums, but will no longer be eligible for a preferred risk policy. Visit www.floodsmart.gov to learn more about flood insurance or contact your insurance agent.
Our current studies will follow the FEMA process for revision of floodplain maps.
- Information Gathering: Surveyors and engineers collect information in the field and from construction plans.
- Engineering and Mapping: Engineers and technical staff will then incorporate the new survey data into the current floodplain models to produce draft floodplain maps.
- Stakeholder Meetings: The draft floodplain maps and supporting engineering data are presented to community and stakeholders.
- Production and Distribution of Preliminary Maps: Based on comments received during stakeholder meetings, the City produces preliminary floodplain maps and prepares them for distribution to the community.
- Public Meetings and Appeal Period: The preliminary maps are made available to the public. There will be an opportunity for the public to review and formally appeal the maps.
- Production of Final Maps: Appeals and protests are reviewed and revisions made to the maps if justified.
- Adoption of Revised Maps: Maps are officially adopted by FEMA and the City of Austin.
The City conducts engineering studies to determine the extent of the regulatory floodplains. We use historical rainfall information, aerial photography, ground surveys, and engineering computer software to complete these studies.
The reason for the remapping effort is specific to each watershed. Please download the flyer for the watershed you are interested in for more information. The watersheds are listed on the Floodplain Management page. You can download a flyer by clicking on the watershed name.
Depending on how much rain there’s been, Austin’s creeks may be bone dry, gently flowing with water or a raging torrent. The floodplain is the area of land that is likely to be under water when the creek rushes over its banks. In a sense, the floodplain is the full extension of the creek.
The 100-year floodplain is the land that is predicted to flood during a 100-year storm, which has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. You may also hear the 100-year floodplain called the 1% annual chance floodplain or base flood. Areas within the 100-year floodplain may flood in much smaller storms as well. The 100-year floodplain is used by FEMA to administer the federal flood insurance program and the City of Austin to regulate development.
The FEMA floodplain maps are used for administering flood insurance. FEMA floodplains are based the conditions that existed at the time of the floodplain study, including buildings, parking lots, driveways, bridges, culverts and channel geometry.
The City of Austin regulatory floodplain is used for development and building permits. Its floodplains are based on fully developed conditions. In other words, all of the land area is assumed to be fully built out with the maximum impervious cover currently allowed by zoning. Generally, the regulatory floodplains cover a greater area of land than the FEMA floodplains. In some cases, for example in the urban watersheds, the FEMA and City of Austin floodplains are exactly the same.
The restrictions protect lives and properties. They ensure that development doesn’t cause additional flooding on other properties. In addition, they ensure that the development itself minimizes the risks of flooding. Many of the development restrictions are federal requirements in order for Austin citizens to be able to purchase federally-backed flood insurance from FEMA.