In Harris County, flooding tops the list of natural threats to our homes, businesses, and valued property.
Harris County residents and business have been responding to flooding since the early 1900s. Our approach and infrastructure have evolved signficantly since the turn of the century, and MAAPnext represents a step from our past into a future of better flood risk understanding.
Most of the flooding is in areas developed prior to the current understanding of flood potential and prior to regulations restricting construction in flood-prone areas.
Since the 1980s, flood insurance has eased the financial impact of flooding.
Despite tremendous flood damage reduction projects that have reduced the risk of flooding, more flood insurance claims have been paid in Harris County than in any other National Flood Insurance Program-participating community.
In Harris County, the cost of not having flood insurance is often far more expensive than the cost of annual flood insurance premiums. Just one inch of water inside a structure can cause thousands of dollars in damages.
This applies to mortgages backed by Federal Housing Administration (FHA) or Veterans Affairs (VA) loans. However, mortgage lenders also have the authority to require flood insurance for structures outside high-risk flood areas.
Some insurance plans will cover minor damage from rain, but if your home fills with water as a result of rising creeks, bayous, or another body of water, you will not be covered.
This includes those who live or do business in Houston, unincorporated Harris County or any of the other 33 municipalities in Harris County. Flood insurance rates are set by the federal government and depend on several factors. The primary factor that determines the insurance premium is a structures flooding risk as shown on the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, Flood Insurance Rate Map, known as a FIRM. FIRMs change frequently, so please visit msc.fema.gov to create a current map, or contact your insurance agent.
Everyone lives in a flood zone
You don't need to live near water to be flooded
Floods are caused by storms, hurricanes, and water backup due to inadequate or overloaded drainage systems, dam or levee failure, etc.
Referred to as Risk Rating 2.0, FEMA is focused on building a culture of preparedness by closing the insurance gap. Recognizing that purchasing flood insurance can be confusing and time-consuming, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is redesigning its risk rating plan to improve the policyholder experience. FEMA is committed to a NFIP that people value and trust; that is fair, understandable, and less complex to navigate.
Risk Rating 2.0 aims to accomplish this by leveraging industry best practices and current technology to deliver rates that are fair, easy to understand, and better reflect a property’s unique flood risk. Risk Rating 2.0 will fundamentally change the way FEMA rates a property’s flood risk and prices insurance. For more information, visit FEMA’s NFIP and Risk Rating 2.0 website
This project will allow the Flood Control District to understand and map flooding related to bayous, creeks and other natural drainage patterns. Additionally, the Flood Control District will be able to identify and map flooding in streets and neighborhoods on a county-wide level. The resulting data will produce a variety of flood mapping products that will allow area residents and business owners the opportunity to better understand flooding risks to support their actions and decisions in the future.
A major difference in this assessment will be the utilization of coupled one-dimensional/two-dimensional (1D-2D) hydraulic models. Previously, we would describe the ground beneath the floodplain in our hydraulic models at one dimensional (1D) cross-sections, and the model would make an assumption about the area between the cross-sections. In this effort, the ground beneath the floodplain will be described by a detailed two-dimensional (2D) surface instead, eliminating the guess-work between cross-sections. In addition to better describing the ground over which the floodplain flows, we can simulate rainfall falling directly onto the 2D surface and identify areas which may be at risk of flooding from water that hasn’t even reached the channel yet.
Increases in mapped flood risk are expected in many areas throughout the county as a result of MAAPnext analysis and findings. In some of these cases, the Harris County Flood Control District may already be implementing a flood damage reduction strategy that will reduce this identified risk. The recently voter-approved 2018 Harris County Flood Control Bond Program has provided the funding to kick off more than 200 projects intended to alleviate flood risks throughout the county. To find out if a bond project is ongoing in your area and learn about potential benefits to your area visit the Harris County Flood Control District Bond Program website.
Keep in mind that MAAPnext results will only include the effect of projects that have been completed by the end of 2018. Flood Control District Bond Projects that are completed after the beginning of 2019 will be reflected in the maps through the FEMA Letter of Map Amendment (LOMR) process. LOMRs that are processed during the MAAPnext regulatory update phase will become effective following the release of final effective maps.
The Flood Control District has many ongoing projects throughout Harris County. Partnerships with federal and state agencies, local communities, and private interests play a vital role in many of those projects. These partnerships are important for the Flood Control District in setting priorities, determining community preferences, making taxpayer dollars go further and finding solutions that are the best fit for both a given project and the affected community.
When partnerships are formed, we get something greater than the sum of the individual parts. The Flood Control District strongly believes that partnerships are vital to getting the right projects done in the right way, and with proper regard for our community's values. We believe that our partnership with FEMA exemplifies this commitment.
The District and FEMA work together to continuously update the flood hazard information in effect in Harris County when there are changes to our understanding of the flood risk. These changes are usually on a smaller scale than for the MAAPnext proect. The last countywide effort to update the flood maps took place over a decade ago as part of an effort known as the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project (TSARP), which was launched after Tropical Storm Allison struck Harris County in June 2001.
The resulting data will produce a variety of flood mapping products that will allow area residents and business owners the opportunity to better understand flooding risks to support their actions and decisions in the future.
The project will conclude with the Flood Control District creating new flood hazard communications tools and FEMA releasing new preliminary FIRMs by the end of 2023. The Flood Control District expects many changes to be reflected in the resulting flood risk maps that will impact how future projects, new development, and their associated mitigation strategies are implemented.
The Flood Control District's ongoing partnership with FEMA has led to MAAPnext, as well as the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project (TSARP), which was initiated in 2001 and resulted in new FIRMs for all of Harris County in 2007. The updated MAAPnext flood maps will be produced using the best science and technology available and will give us the best understanding yet of the extents of 100-year floodplains. The Flood Control District is participating in partnership with FEMA to deliver this effort, providing local matching funds and authorizing negotiations with expert engineering firms to support delivery of MAAPnext.
Using new methodologies and technologies, the Flood Control District will provide a better understanding of flood risks throughout Harris County, including previously unmapped urban flooding (also referred to as overland, ponding, or non-riverine flooding). Since its inception in 1937, the Flood Control District has continually worked to better understand flood risk throughout the county. This project represents a transformative step in the management and regulation of Harris County’s floodplains. Recent advancements in hydrologic and hydraulic modeling software and methodologies will allow the Flood Control District to identify and evaluate flood risks in greater detail than was previously possible.
These advancements will allow the Flood Control District to understand and map flooding related to bayous, creeks and other natural drainage patterns. Additionally, the Flood Control District will be able to identify and map flooding in streets and neighborhoods on a county-wide level.
MAAPnext will develop the next generation of flood mapping. Along with new FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), additional tools will be developed for communicating the results of this project.
New Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Harris County will be produced as part of the MAAPnext Project. The Flood Control District is responsible for assessing flood hazards and preparing draft flood zone mapping, while the effective FIRM is produced, maintained and published by FEMA. Please visit FEMA's Map Service Center at msc.fema.gov to view the FIRM in effect for Harris County. For an official floodplain determination, please contact an insurance agent or mortgage lender.
The overarching goal for MAAPnext is to provide you with the flood risk information you need to make important life decisions. The project will improve understanding of the risk of flooding in Harris County so that the public, local communities and emergency managers can make informed decisions to protect life and property that may be at risk during flood events. The Flood Control District expects many changes to be reflected in the resulting flood risk maps that will impact how future projects, new development, and their associated mitigation strategies are implemented.
The resulting data will produce a variety of flood mapping products that provide the information residents and business owners need to better understand flooding risks in their area.
Visit FEMA’s Homeowner’s Frequently Asked Questions site to find your property's flood map, understand flood risk zones and how to request a change to your flood zone designation, known as the Letter of Map Change (LOMC) process.
Initial MAAPnext findings and updated, preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) will not be available until spring or summer of 2022. The Flood Control District and FEMA will be partnering to implement a widespread public engagement program to ensure all communities within Harris County have the opportunity to review preliminary FIRMs and provide comments.
When FEMA releases a preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for a community, caution must be exercised in using this data. For insurance purposes, preliminary FIRMs cannot be used to make official flood determinations. The currently effective FIRM is the only official document for this purpose. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to identify your current flood risk.
If the currently effective FIRM shows your property outside the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and the newer preliminary FIRM shows your property as being in the SFHA, you may want to explore your options to reduce your risk of flood damage and lower your insurance payments. FEMA offers ways of to cut your monthly insurance premium in the event your home’s mapped flood risk increases. You may want to contact your insurance agent to determine your options for purchasing a flood insurance policy.
For more information, visit FEMA’s Homeowner’s Frequently Asked Questions.
A partnership project between The Harris County Flood Control District (the District) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will use the most up-to-date technology and conditions to produce the County’s most comprehensive and complete set of flood hazard maps and information.
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