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Protecting Your Home > What is your flood hazard?

1. Check with your community officials for flooding information in your area. Some questions you might ask are:

  • Where does the water come from?
  • Are you in the mapped Special Flood Hazard Area or floodway as shown on your FIRM?
  • Are you in coastal high hazard area or V Zone as shown on your FIRM?
  • How bad has it been in the past?
  • How bad could it be? (Remember, the next flood can be worse than the last one.)
  • What is an appropriate flood protection level? (How high should you prepare for?)

2. Are you protected by levees?

Areas protected by levees face two types of flood hazard:

  • Deep and sudden flooding due to overtopping or levee failure. This usually occurs as a result of high river or lake levels, or a Tropical Storm or Hurricane.  Because there will be some warning of these conditions there should be adequate time to evacuate. 
  • Shallow flooding from rainstorms. Areas protected by levees are flat and need pumps to drain stormwater runoff. There may not be much of a warning for this type of flooding.

For additional information on living behind levees, click here.

3. Check out your local drainage situation. Whether or not you are in a mapped flood hazard area or subject to levee failure flooding, you could still be faced with the shallow flooding that comes with a local drainage problem.

  • Does water flow away from your house or does it tend to stand next to your walls?
  • Is the ditch, stream or storm sewer that takes water away clear of debris or obstructions?
  • Do the downspouts from your roof gutters direct water well away from your house?
  • Do you have a sump pump? If so, does it direct water well away from your house?
  • Stormwater mitigation best practices from the EPA

Once you have the answers to these three questions, the next step is to look at your building's Foundation.


Your community's Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) has a lot of information on your flood hazard. You can view your FIRM online at