Floods occur naturally and can happen almost anywhere. They may not even be near a body of water, although river and coastal flooding are two of the most common types. Heavy rains, poor drainage, and even nearby construction projects can put you at risk for flood damage.
Because protection of certain floodplain areas is crucial in managing the negative impacts associated with flooding, regulations are in place that strictly limit allowable activities specific in flood-prone areas. ALL of Hitchcock is subject to flooding. For more information, please see the City of Hitchcock's Code of Ordinances Chapter 152 Flood Hazard Areas ordinance. Click HERE
Flood maps are one tool that communities use to know which areas have the highest risk of flooding. FEMA maintains and updates data through flood maps and risk assessments.
BEFORE you decide to build, please contact the Floodplain Administrator and discuss the building process and requirements. A predevelopment meeting may need to take place to correctly determine your needs.
Floodplain Administrator Arnold J. Cross, Jr.
The City of Hitchcock residents can contact the City’s Community Development Department and Floodplain Administrator to learn about their flood zone designation, basic flood map information, floodway data, estimated flood depth, base flood elevation, localized drainage problems, as well as information about past flooding and areas that should be protected such as wetlands.
What is a floodplain?
Floodplains are regulatory boundaries established to preserve the flood-carrying capacity of our creeks, channels, rivers, bayous, and canals. Floodplains are determined by engineering analysis and reviewed, approved and mapped by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Physical copies of these maps are available for review at the City of Hitchcock's Community Development Department and on the FEMA website www.fema.gov/flood-maps.
Flood maps show how likely it is for an area to flood. Any place with a 1% chance or higher chance of experiencing a flood each year is considered to have a high risk. Those areas have at least a one-in-four chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage.
Floods don’t follow city limits or property lines. Using a flood map, you can see the relationship between your property and the areas with the highest risk of flooding. There is no such thing as a “no-risk zone,” but some areas have a lower or moderate risk.
How to View and Obtain Flood Maps
The FEMA Flood Map Service Center (MSC) is the official online location to find all flood hazard mapping products created under the National Flood Insurance Program, including your community’s flood map. Use the link https://www.fema.gov/flood-maps to search for your map or National Flood Hazard Layer information. You may also visit the City of Hitchcock Community Development office located in City Hall at 7423 Hwy 6 Hitchcock, Texas 77563, for assistance.
Using Flood Maps
Flood maps help mortgage lenders determine insurance requirements and help communities develop strategies for reducing their risk. The mapping process helps you and your community understand your flood risk and make more informed decisions about how to reduce or manage your risk.
- Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States.
- Flooding can occur anywhere.
- Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to property.
- As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet or move your car.
- Texas is particularly vulnerable to harsh weather and severe flooding, even hundreds of miles inland. In fact, Texas leads the nation (over Florida and Louisiana) in flood-related damages most every year.
- New construction can increase flood risk, especially if it changes natural runoff paths.
- Most homeowner's insurance doesn't cover flood damage.
- People outside of high-risk flood zones file more than 20 percent of all NFIP claims and receive one-third of federal disaster assistance for flooding.
- More than five million Americans are protected with flood insurance, but millions more are unaware of their personal risk for property damage or options for protection.
- Compared to a fire, people in floodplains are four times more likely to have a flood during their 30-year mortgage.
- A flooding incident must be declared a federal disaster by the president before FEMA assistance becomes available. Federal disaster declarations are issued in less than 50 percent of flooding events.
- Federal disaster assistance is usually a loan that must be paid back with interest and is only available when a disaster has been federally-declared.
- Flood insurance claims are paid even if a federal disaster is not declared by the president.
- A flood insurance claim will reimburse individuals for covered losses and never has to be repaid, unlike a disaster assistance loan.
The standard homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damages. Every homeowner should learn about their local flood risk and determine if flood insurance is appropriate for their needs. It’s important for homeowners to know there is a 30-day waiting period for claims to cover any losses to your property caused by flooding.
Why Purchase Flood Insurance?
Flood insurance is required by law for property owners living in a high-risk area, or Special Flood Hazard Area, with a federally-backed mortgage. For example, if you have a FHA or VA loan, or if your mortgage company is federally insured, you must obtain flood insurance if you live in a high risk area. Regardless of the type of mortgage, College Station recommends that all residents in high-risk areas be protected. For buildings in high-flood risk areas, there is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a 9% chance of experiencing a fire.
Remember that everyone has some risk of flooding. Flooding events can also occur in low-to- moderate risk areas and flood insurance in these areas is also strongly recommended. Most homeowner's policies do not cover flood losses.
How Much Does Flood Insurance Cost?
Properties in low-to-moderate risk areas may be eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy with flood insurance premiums lower than others. Contact your insurance agent for more details.
How Do I Purchase Insurance?
Flood insurance is sold through more than 80 private insurance companies and agents, and is available to homeowners, business owners, and renters. Contact your insurance agent to help you decide what kind of flood protection is best for you. Information on how to purchase a flood insurance policy is also available at. FloodSmart.gov.
For more information about flood insurance click here.
Nobody can stop a flood, but there are actions you can take before, during, and after a flood to protect your family and keep your property losses to a minimum.
BEFORE THE FLOOD:
Listen to your radio, TV, or National Weather Service radio for the latest information on weather conditions that can cause flooding. Click here to learn about NOAA Weather Radios. You may also check the City of Hitchcock Facebook and website, and Galveston County Office of Emergency Management website.
Our area’s common hazard is a flash flood. Flash flood is rapid flooding in generally low lying areas. It occurs when heavy rains in a short amount of time cover the area. Flash flooding can appear quickly. Remain aware and monitor local weather updates.
"Flash Flood Watch" means that conditions exist that may lead to flash flooding. "Flash Flood Warning" means that flash flooding has been reported. "Urban and Small Stream Advisory" means that flooding of small streams, streets, and low-lying areas is occurring.
Avoid unnecessary travel during severe weather. Poor visibility can make trips dangerous. Warn children not play near swollen creeks, bayous, storm drains, or culverts. Do not go near creeks and low-water crossings. Beware of rising, swift-moving water. Manmade features such as storm drains, fences, and culverts create additional "strainers" that can snag and drown even the strongest swimmer. If you see major obstructions such as downed trees or telephone poles in a creek, or if you see a blocked culvert or bridge opening, call dispatch.
If time permits, and your house is in the path of the flood:
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
- Move valuables, such as papers, furs, 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.
DURING THE FLOOD:
Stay away and do not drive or walk into water that is flowing across low water crossings, bridges, or roadways. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. Heed all warnings and street barricades, because if you go around one, you may be subject to a fine.
These areas are especially dangerous because:
- As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet or move your car.
- More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.
- The road may be washed out below the water surface.
- Your car may stall or get stuck in the water, and then get pushed off the road. Once off the road, cars often start to roll, making escape impossible.
MOVE TO A SAFER AREA:
Do not go near downed power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is another major source of deaths in floods.
Evacuate your house if instructed to do so. Follow emergency instructions. It is much safer and easier to evacuate before flood waters become too deep.
If the waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, attic or roof. Take dry clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio.
AFTER THE FLOOD:
Call the insurance company that handles your flood insurance policy right away to initiate a claim. Most insurance companies will require repair estimates from a contractor. You should also document any damage by taking color photographs or video of damages resulting from the flood.
Before entering a flooded building, remember the following:
- Check for structural damage. Don't go in if there is any chance of the building collapsing.
- Do not use matches, cigarette lighters, or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Instead, use a flashlight to light your way.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
- Look out for animals and snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods too. They may seek shelter in yours.
- Until local authorities proclaim your water supply to be safe, boil water for five minutes before using for drinking and food preparation.
- Flood waters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, and factories. If your home has been flooded, protect your family's health by cleaning up your house right away. Throw out foods and medicines that may have come into contact with flood water.
- Be careful walking around. After a flood, steps and floors are often slippery with mud and covered with debris, including nails and broken glass.
Home and business owners can protect themselves from future floods or reduce the
effect of future floods by various means including:
- Elevating the structure
- Flood proofing the structure
- Surrounding the structure with a small wall or levee
- Facilitating future evacuations
- Buying flood insurance
For more information on protecting your property from flooding damage, click here to visit Association of State Floodplain Manager's website.
Localized Drainage Concerns (Residential Properties)
Under Texas Water Law, "No person may divert or impound the natural flow of surface waters in this state, or permit a diversion or impounding by him to continue in a manner that damages the property of another by the overflow of the water diverted or impounded." Essentially, this means that the natural path of storm water runoff is not to be blocked.
- If you have experienced minor flooding in your home or ponding water in your yard, you may simply have a localized drainage problem that can be corrected with minor grading.
- Property owners are responsible for runoff from private property or between private properties.
- Become familiar with your lot's intended drainage pattern. In most cases, the runoff is intended to flow to the street around each side of the home. In some cases, portions of your lot may naturally drain onto a neighbor's lot, or perhaps you have neighbors whose yard drains onto yours.
- Before you decide to make landscaping improvements to your yard, including the construction of a pool, make sure that you are not blocking the path of storm water runoff and inadvertently causing damage to your property, or the surrounding properties.
- Consider purchasing Flood Insurance, even if your property is not within a FEMA designated Special Flood Hazard Area. Homeowner's insurance does not cover damages caused by flooding. The City recommends that residents of College Station who live near or in a floodplain purchase flood insurance, even it if is not mandated by your home mortgage company. Every year, 25% of flood damages occur on properties outside of the floodplain.
On-site visits and technical assistance may be provided to residents who are experiencing problems in areas of flooding and drainage, or for those who want recommendations on how to retrofit an existing property. Contact the Floodplain Administrator's office at (409) 986-5591.
Any activity performed in the floodplain must have a Floodplain Permit. This includes grading, filling, residential construction and commercial construction.
To obtain a building permit you must complete a Floodplain Permit application first. Applications can be picked up at City Hall or online. Complete and return the form to the Community Development office before building plans can be submitted.
Q: What is a 100-year floodplain?
A: The term "100-year flood" is misleading. It is not the flood that will occur once every 100 year. There are many levels of floods: 500-year, 100-year, 20-year, and 10-year, for example. These numbers indicate the likelihood that a particular area will flood in a year's time. For example, a home in a 100-year floodplain has a one in 100 (or 1 percent) chance each year of being flooded. That percentage holds true every year, regardless of how many floods have occurred in previous years, or their severity.
Q: Who sets the boundaries of floodplain?
A: The Federal Emergency Management Agency, working with local governments, sets the 100-year floodplain boundaries through flood insurance rate studies. Separate studies are done for communities because floodplain levels vary depending on an area's characteristics.
Q: What are my odds of flooding within a 100-year floodplain?
A: If your home is in the 100-year floodplain, it has a 26% chance of getting flooded over a 30-year mortgage period, which is about five times higher than the risk for a severe fire! If your home is in a lower-lying area of the 100-year floodplain, your risk of flooding will increase. People outside of the 100-year floodplain are free of regulatory requirements, but not of risk. Federally-backed flood insurance is available to people outside of the 100-year flood zone as well.
Q: Can I build on property in a floodplain?
A: Floodplain development restrictions apply to grading, new construction and some renovations. Contact the Floodplain Administrator's office at (409) 986-5591 for more information on these requirements.
Q: Do I need a special permit to grade, build or renovate in a floodplain?
A: Yes. A Floodplain Permit is needed to make sure the changes comply with floodplain regulations.
Q: Does standard homeowner's insurance cover losses and damages due to flooding?
Q: Am I required to purchase flood insurance?
A: Yes, if your property is located in a high risk area or Special Flood Hazard Area AND you have a federally backed mortgage such as FHA or VA loan. Remember, everyone has some risk of flooding. Although flood insurance is not required for low and moderate risk properties, the City of Hitchcock recommends everyone know their risk and options for purchasing flood insurance.
Q: How much does flood insurance cost?
A: People in low-to-moderate-risk areas may be eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy with flood insurance premiums. Contact your insurance agent for more details.
Q: How can I find out if my property is located in a Special Flood Hazard Area?
A: View the FEMA Flood Map Service Center or contact the Floodplain Administrator for the City of Hitchcock at (409) 986-5591.
The term storm water refers to rainwater. Storm water washes down storm drains on the curbs of roads and leads directly into lakes, rivers, streams, and other waterways. Unlike wastewater, it is untreated and can carry pollutants, sediments, and trash directly into our natural water resources. As storm water runoff travels over the land, it picks up all kinds of chemicals, waste, and trash that are not naturally found in our waterways. Storm water runoff enters the storm drain system through inlets, and discharges untreated into creeks, lakes, rivers, and other waterways. Some chemicals and other substances in storm water can be toxic, even at small levels, endangering plant and animals that depend on the water to survive. Pollution of our waterways can also mean we cannot boat, swim, or fish because it is unpleasant or even unsafe. Our local water ways provide thriving habitats for many animals.
Storm water pollution can be controlled if everyone plays a part in preventing these substances from entering the storm drain inlets in the streets where they live and work. You can help prevent storm water pollution by eliminating illicit discharges, exercising responsible use of herbicides, pesticides, and fertilizers in lawn and landscape maintenance, and proper disposal of used oil and toxic materials. Please aid us in our effort to keep Hitchcock beautiful and protect our natural resources.
What Can We Do?
Please do your part to keep inlets and drainage ways clear of brush and debris. Here are steps you can take to protect the quality and control the quantity of water:
- Maintain your vehicle so hoses and reservoirs do not leak or break causing fluids to spill onto streets. Don't pour used motor oil, antifreeze, old pesticides or any other pollutants into the storm drainage system.
- Use a mulching mower or bag your grass and leaves instead of blowing the yard waste into the street. Yard waste can clog storm drains.
- Pick up litter around your neighborhood or business so that trash doesn't collect on drainage inlets or clog storm sewer pipes.
- If you spot a blocked drain or notice illegal dumping, call the Public Works Department at (409) 986-5591, and an inspector will investigate. Putting foreign substances into the storm sewer is a violation of City ordinance.
Our Drainage System
When the drainage system is overwhelmed, "localized flooding" can be the result. The drainage system consists of:
- Roadside ditches
- Curb inlets
- Storm drain pipes
The City has a drainage maintenance program in which crews annually clean out debris that has collected within channels.
If your home or business is in a high-risk area, you will likely need an Elevation Certificate (EC). An Elevation Certificate documents important features of your property, including its location, flood zone, building characteristics and, most importantly, the elevation of its lowest floor.
An Elevation Certification is needed to know your building’s elevation compared to the estimated height floodwaters will reach in a major flood helps provide a true picture of the status of compliance with floodplain ordinances so as to determine your flood risk and the cost of your flood insurance premium.
One Elevation Certificate is required with the Floodplain Permit Application. A second Elevation Certificate is required once the first floor (or piles driven in VE zones) is established. This is BEFORE any additional construction commences. The THIRD is a Final Elevation Certificate when the construction is complete and before a Certificate of Occupancy is issued.
How to get an Elevation Certificate
- Contact your local floodplain manager. There might already be an elevation certificate on file for that property. Every community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has a floodplain manager, although that person might have a different title or serve in multiple capacities. To get started, call your town or city government office and ask for the floodplain manager or the person who handles Elevation Certificates for that community.
- If you have trouble connecting with your local floodplain manager, you can contact your state’s floodplain management office. The state floodplain manager is also referred to as the NFIP state coordinator. Find your state coordinator here.
- Ask the sellers. When buying a property, ask the sellers to give you their Elevation Certification. If they don’t have an EC, ask if they can provide one before settlement.
- Ask the developer or builder. In a high-risk area, the developer or builder might have been required to get an Elevation Certification at the time of construction.
- Check the property deed. Elevation Certifications are sometimes included with the property deed.
- Hire a licensed land surveyor, professional engineer, or certified architect who is authorized by law to certify elevation information. For a fee, these professionals can complete an EC for you.
Raise Your Elevation to Lower Your Risk
Building code requirements may change over time as flood risk changes and maps are updated. If you are remodeling or rebuilding, you will likely need a new Elevation Certificate to reflect the new building characteristics and lowest floor elevation. While remodeling, consider elevating to lower your flood risk, which, in turn, can lower your flood insurance rates and reduce the financial impacts of flooding.
FEMA's Elevation Certificate Fact Sheet - 2023
See a sample Elevation Certificate
Visit the CRS Elevation Certificate Training Series from the Community Rating System