Flooding is the most common natural catastrophe worldwide and is Harris County's #1 natural hazard.
Floods have caused a greater loss of life and property and have disrupted more families and communities in the United States than all other natural hazards combined.
The peril of flooding can happen at almost anytime, anywhere. It does not take a catastrophic event to create flooding that results in catastrophic loss.
The Harris County region is vulnerable to flooding in virtually any area because the land here is flat, we have clay soils, and we have lots of annual rainfall, including the threat of tropical storms and hurricanes. History is not always a trustworthy indicator for measuring flooding risks. Flooding is about the rain: where it falls, how much falls and how long it falls. The majority of rain that fell during Tropical Storm Allison was over northeast Houston - 28.5 inches in 12 hours, to be exact. That amount of rain in such a short period of time would cause similar flooding anywhere in this region. Much of Harris County received only a few inches of rain during Allison.
If you are stranded in your home due to floodwaters, never attempt to wade through water for help. Stay at your home and wait for emergency personnel to help you.
Turn around, don't drown! Texas leads the nation in flood deaths, and more than 50% of these deaths are vehicle-related. Most of the deaths can be prevented if drivers respect the power and enormous forces of floodwaters. Drivers should NEVER attempt to drive through flooded low-water crossings or over flooded bridges or roadways. There is no way of knowing what is beneath the surface, or if the roadway still exists. For more on this, go to www.srh.noaa.gov/tadd/
Six inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet and water two feet deep will cause most vehicles to float. A couple of inches of water in your home can cause several thousands of dollars in damage.
Individuals and business owners can protect themselves from flood losses by purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Homeowner's policies do not cover flood damage. The effects of flooding do not end when the water recedes. Flood insurance can help you get back on your feet. To purchase flood insurance, visit the National Flood Insurance Program website, www.floodsmart.gov, or contact your insurance agent.
Remember, a flood insurance policy does not go into effect until 30 days after purchase. If you don't have flood insurance, you should purchase a policy now.
Everyone lives in a flood zone. You don't need to live near water to be flooded.
Even if you don't live near a bayou, creek or river, and even if you know for certain you are not in a floodplain, you can still flood. Harris County is very flat. It takes a long time for stormwater runoff to travel overland or through storm sewers to a bayou. If a foot of rain fell in one day in your neighborhood, the water waiting to get into the storm sewer inlet in your yard or street could back up into your house. No one in Harris County is safe from flooding.
In Harris County, more homes flood annually than are destroyed by fire. In a high-risk area, your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood during the course of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 4% chance of fire. Homeowner's insurance covers fire damage. It does not cover flood damage. You have fire insurance. Do you have flood insurance?
In June 2001, Tropical Storm Allison left Harris County, Texas, with 22 fatalities, 95,000 damaged automobiles and trucks, 73,000 damaged residences, 30,000 stranded residents in shelters, and over $5 billion in property damage in its wake. Simply put, everything about Allison was "off-the-charts." The most important lesson to remember: A storm like Allison will happen again. It's only a matter of when... and where.
Detailed, printable information on flood safety and preparedness