Flood Protection

Insure Your Property for Flood

The City of Houston participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Insurance rates are based on the flood zone of your property and the risk of being flooded. Purchasing federal flood insurance through the NFIP is one of the best ways to protect your home and belongings. Standard homeowner policies do not cover damage from floods.   

  • There is normally a 30-day waiting period when purchasing a new policy. Flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and agents and is backed by the federal government.
  • Homeowners in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), or high-risk area, must buy flood insurance if they have a mortgage from a federally regulated lender. 
  • Homes located outside the high-risk flood zone areas need flood insurance, too. Nationally, over 25% of structures that flood each year belong to policyholders whose properties are not in a high-risk flood zone.
  • Flood insurance is available for all properties located in the City of Houston. 
  • If you’re renting a home or apartment, contents coverage is available from the NFIP to protect your valuables and belongings.
For more information about obtaining flood insurance for both your structure and contents, contact your insurance agent or visit: www.fema.gov/nfip or www.floodsmart.gov.


The following video from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov) shares TV Meteorologist Frank Billingsley’s first-hand encounter with property damage caused by Hurricane Ike:



Community Rating System (CRS)
The City of Houston participates in the Community Rating System (CRS). The CRS is a subset of the NFIP. It is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. As a result, flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk resulting from the community’s actions meeting the three goals of the CRS: 1) Reduce flood losses, 2) Facilitate accurate insurance rating, and 3) Promote the awareness of flood insurance. Community participation in the CRS is in addition to participation in the NFIP. Participation in the NFIP does not automatically include participation in the CRS. As of September 2012, the City of Houston has a CRS ranking of 5, which qualifies residents for a 25% discount on flood insurance premiums for properties in the SFHA.
Property Protection

The City of Houston has initiated numerous property protection measures to reduce flood risk in the community. The City has addressed property protection by requiring new construction in the high flood risk areas be constructed 1.0 foot above the 1% annual chance floodplain, or Base Flood Elevation (BFE.) If the first floor level of your structure is lower than the BFE on the FEMA flood map, consider ways to reduce the risk of flooding such as retrofitting or renovating to protect your structure. 

The Floodplain Management Office can tell you about the causes of flooding, what the City is doing about it, and what would be an appropriate flood protection level for your structure.  Call 832-394-8854 to request assistance from a City staff member who can visit you on-site, provide additional guidance on solving your flooding problems, and funding options for mitigating flood risk to your property.

Retrofitting measures may include:

  • Elevating the building so that flood waters do not enter or reach the lowest floor above flood level,
  • Constructing barriers out of compacted soil or concrete between the building and flood waters,
  • “Dry floodproofing” to make the building walls and floor watertight,
  • “Wet floodproofing” to protect a building by allowing floodwaters to enter uninhabited areas of the property such as parking and storage areas,
  • Preventing basement flooding from sewer backup or sump pump failure.
Retrofitting information can be found in the Houston public library or online at: https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2003/07/30/retrofitting-protect-your-home-flooding


Build Responsibility

All development in the City of Houston requires a development permit. The City’s ordinances and building codes guide and regulate construction in floodplains. Without these provisions, flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would not be available. Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal and should be reported to the Floodplain Management Office at 832-394-8854.

The City of Houston participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). As a participating community, the City has adopted floodplain management practices through several ordinances that limit the development allowed in the 1% annual chance floodplain (the area inundated by a storm that has a 1% chance of occurring in any year). The City of Houston standards require all new structures be constructed 1.0 foot above the 1% annual chance flood elevation, or 1.0 foot above the "ultimate" water surface elevation, whichever is higher. When developing along a major creek within the City of Houston, the developer must submit a flood study to the City showing the 1% annual chance floodplain and water surface elevation based on both current land-use and future land-use assumptions. For property with any portion located within the 1% annual chance floodplain, regardless of structure location, a flood insurance policy may be required by the mortgage lender.

The Floodplain Management Office is available to make site visits to review flooding issues, drainage and sewer problems, and provide one-on-one advice to property owners pertaining to development, renovation, and flood protection measures for your structure.