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! Your risk of flooding will increase if your home is located in a lower-lying area of the 100-year floodplain.

People outside of the 100-year floodplain are not free 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: Yes. However, floodplain development restrictions apply to grading, new construction and some renovations. Contact the Harris County Permit Office at (713) 956-3000 for more information on these requirements.

Q: Do I need a permit to grade, build or renovate in a floodplain?
A: Yes. A Permit is needed to make sure the changes comply with Harris County's Floodplain Management Regulations.

Q: Does standard homeowner's insurance cover losses and damages due to flooding?
A: No.

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, Harris County recommends everyone know their risk and options for purchasing flood insurance.

Q: How much does flood insurance cost?
A: The average premium for a yearly flood insurance policy is approximately $500. People in low-to-moderate-risk areas may be eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy with flood insurance premiums as low as $112 a year. 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: Visit Harris County Flood Control District's Interactive Map or contact Harris County Permit Office at (713) 956-3000.

Q: What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?
A: Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) is an insurance and floodplain management map issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that identifies special flood hazard areas in a community. In Harris County, the map shows 1% (Base Flood or 100-year) and 0.2% (500-year) floodplain boundaries and regulatory floodway boundaries.

Q: How do I get a copy of the Flood Insurance Rate Map for my property?
A: Computer plots are available for $5 in the Records section of our office. Requests for historical maps can be faxed to (713) 956-3050, Attention: Records. You can also go to the FEMA map store.

Q: Is my property in the floodplain?
A: You can go to https://www.harriscountyfemt.org/ to find your location or you can view the floodplain maps in our office, Mon-Fri, 7:30am-4:00pm. For an official flood plain status of your property, you may contact a flood plain determination consultant. A list of these consultants can be found at http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/fzone1.shtm. An official determination is often required by mortgage and insurance companies.