Tag Archive for: flood plain map

City of Houston Will Now Require Developers to Identify Flood-Prone Areas on Their General Plans

It’s a minor victory. And it may not actually change anything on the ground. But the City of Houston today sent a signal to developers, who now have to identify flood prone areas on their general plans.

The move should eliminate any doubt among bankers, buyers and real estate agents as to whether a particular property is in a floodway or flood plain.

By following all the other guidelines, developers can still get their plans approved. This change helps people seeking truth and full disclosure in the sales process.

There’s one other key change. Another new requirement is that, as each section of a general plan is platted, it has to adhere to the then current standards. That is important so that the entire development isn’t grandfathered by the approval date of the general plan.

These changes may make some developers think twice about buying and developing flood-prone property. Especially if they target unknowledgeable buyers, such as young people or foreigners, who may be unfamiliar with American flood standards.

Today’s press release by the City of Houston’s Planning and Development department says the changes will go into effect July 24, 2020.

The release is being blasted out to developers also. It’s titled “Platting Updates for Flood Prone Areas.” I have reprinted the full text verbatim below.


Effective July 24, 2020

Flooding events have been increasingly severe in the City of Houston and our region. The 2018 amendment to Chapter 19 City of Houston Code of Ordinances mandated that it was necessary to evaluate development within the 100-year and 500-year floodplains to protect investments made by residents and business owners in real property within the City. Harris County and others have developed their own needs in improving the drainage in their regions.

To mitigate and reduce the risk of flood loss for future development, the 100-year, 500-year floodplains and floodway will be required to be identified on all General Plans submitted to the Department with the Plat Tracker application. Applicants will be required to graphically depict the location of the floodplains and or floodway on their General Plans and provide related note.

This information must be provided as part of initial submittal of a General Plan for Planning Commission consideration. The General Plan application will be marked incomplete if this information is not included as part of the initial submittal.


The way to depict this information correctly is to go to the FEMA website through the following link: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search#searchresultsanchor.Enter the address, place, or coordinates. The site will produce a map that will identify whether the property is located in the 100-year, 500-year flood plains or floodway. Provide a dashed line on your General Plan identifying the 100-year, 500-year flood plains or floodway as depicted on the FEMA map.


Also, include on the face of the General Plan the following related note as follows: Portions of the property included in this General Plan lie within the known floodway and the 100 and 500-year floodplains. As each section or parcel is platted and developed, the then-current standards of City of Houston [or if ETJ: Harris County] drainage, elevation, and building regulations must be adhered to. 


This document is being circulated to our customer eblast and posted on our Development Services web page https://www.houstontx.gov/planning/DevelopRegs/..

For additional information contact Dipti Mathur at 832-393-6560.

Imagine how the general plan of “Orchard Seeded Ranches” would look. It would clearly show that virtually every property was subject to severe flooding. Also imagine now how those new townhomes in Kings Harbor will look to Chinese investors.

Developers who specialize these types of distress properties may have to rethink their marketing strategies.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 7/17/2020

1053 Days since Hurricane Harvey

Where do you live relative to official flood plains?

During Harvey tens of thousands of people in the Houston area outside of 100-year and 500-year flood plains flooded. Do you really know your home’s location relative to official flood plains? It could be important during lesser floods and affect the cost of flood insurance.

This FEMA web site shows interactive flood plain maps that can give you a wealth of information about the risk to your property.

Feature-rich, Interactive Flood-Plain Map by FEMA

Access FEMA’s Flood Zone map for this area by going to this web page: http://maps.riskmap6.com/TX/Harris/

Then follow these steps:

  1. When you get to the entry page, agree to terms and conditions
  2. Type in  your address to get a detailed view of risk for yourself and your neighborhood. Or you can also type in something more general, such as Kingwood TX, to see the contour of flood plains in the entire community.
  3. On the left-hand panel, check both boxes under “Effective Flood Insurance Rate Map.”
  4. The legend is on the right. Some explanations:
    1. Anything in solid purple is in the FLOODWAY. Expect frequent flooding and major damage.
    2. Anything under the fuchsia diagonal stripes is in the 100-year plain. People there have a 1% probability of flooding every year – and a 26% chance of flooding during the life of a 30-year mortgage.
    3. Anything under grey diagonal stripes is in the 500-year flood plain. People there have a 0.2% probability of flooding every year – and a 5.8% chance of flooding during the life of a 30-year mortgage.
    4. Properties outside those zones are in an area of overall lower risk. Lower-cost, preferred-rate, flood insurance policies (known as Preferred Risk Policies) are often an option in these areas. See your local insurance agent or visit floodsmart.gov for more information.
  5. If you entered your specific address, click the info button above the map, then click the star on your property to learn more about your risk. After the box pops up, you can click “View Detailed Flood Report” for even more information.
  6. You can hide both the legend and check box panels by clicking on the >> double arrows at the top of each panel.
  7. Zoom and move about, as you would Google Maps.
  8. Use the measuring tool above the map to check your distance from flood zones and hazards such as streams, ditches and rivers.

Guide to Terminology

If you need help interpreting all the acronyms and technical language in the check boxes and legend, consult this PDF: How to read a FEMA Map

The PDF above is definitely worth a read. It explains the “language” of flooding and flood insurance. It also explains how to protest a designation if you think the map has misclassified your property, for instance, if your slab has been elevated relative to the average level around you.

Experiment with the different tools and views in the map. Zoom out to see the risk in surrounding areas. The interactive exploration is fascinating.

Regardless of how far you are from flood plains or how high you are above them, if you live in Harris County, seriously consider flood insurance. During Harvey, more homes flooded outside the 500-year flood plain than inside.

A Less Powerful, but Easier-to-Understand Alternative

Harris County Flood Control offers a web site similar to FEMA’s; it has fewer options and less information, but is easier to understand and navigate. It’s actually called a “flood education mapping tool.” See: http://www.harriscountyfemt.org/Index.aspx.

The flood education mapping tool from Harris County Flood Control District has fewer options but is easier to understand.

How to Find the Elevation of Your Home

If you don’t already know the elevation of your home from surveys, deeds or insurance docs, try this web site: https://elevationmap.net/.

My thanks to Paul Margaritis, a long-time Kingwood resident. Paul forwarded this information to RefuceFlooding.com.

Posted 5/29/2018 by Bob Rehak

273 days since Hurricane Harvey