What You Need to Know About Floodplain Management

The City of Bellaire, Texas is dedicated to minimizing the loss of life and property that is associated with flood events. Education and prevention are valuable and proven tools that help communities become resistant to these natural disasters. Bellaire recognizes that the entire community is susceptible to flooding, not just those structures located within Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The following information has been provided to help inform property owners located within the flood prone SFHA and also all property owners within the City of Bellaire.

Flood Hazard

Bellaire is located approximately 50 miles inland from the Gulf of Mexico in southwestern Harris County, Texas. The topography of the city is flat coastal plain with little slope. The soils are primarily fat clays, with the city and surrounding areas having highly developed urban areas. These factors contribute to high levels of runoff with little percolation and threaten all areas of the city with potential flooding.

Climatic conditions of the area are characterized by warm summers and mild winters with the average rainfall being less than 50 inches per year. Bellaire is subject to tropical storms and hurricanes, as well as storms generated from Arctic and Pacific weather fronts, and due to its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, significant rainfall from these storms is often experienced. Additionally, the city is located in the Bray's Bayou Watershed, which is a significant flood threat to the area during severe rain events. The combination of climate, topography and urban development yields circumstances that contribute to potential flooding on a regular basis. Over the last century, Bellaire has been subjected to flooding from over 30 severe storms and hurricanes.

Flood Insurance

Basic homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. The City of Bellaire participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which means that federally subsidized flood insurance is available to everyone in the city. The purchase of flood insurance is highly recommended. Remember there is a 30-day waiting period before the policy becomes effective. Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank or loan company when they obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies just cover the building's structure and not the contents. Policies are available to cover contents also. Remember that a flood insurance policy must be renewed every year.

Community Rating System

The City of Bellaire participates in the Community Rating System (CRS), a voluntary federal program that rewards communities for implementing higher flood mitigation standards by providing discounts on flood insurance policies to residents. 

Because we participate in this program, Bellaire property owners receive a discount on their flood insurance premiums according to the CRS Credit Points, Classes, and Premium Discounts Table.

 There are a few items of note regarding renewing flood insurance premiums.

  • Beginning October 1, 2021
    • Bellaire's current CRS class will shift from a 7 to a 10, thus eliminating current discounts. This classification will be effective for policies that are renewed beginning October 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022.
    • FEMA is changing the methodology for calculating flood insurance premiums (Risk Rating 2.0). Risk Rating 2.0 allows FEMA to calculate premiums more equitably across all policyholders based on the value of their home and individual property's flood risk.* This change may also impact flood insurance premiums.
  • Beginning April 1, 2022;
    • Bellaire City staff anticipates that the community will shift from a class 10 to a 9, which will deliver a 5% discount on flood insurance premiums. 

Since being informed of the retrograde from 7 to 10 (effective October 1, 2021), staff has worked diligently with FEMA to regain their confidence in the City's processes and standards for managing floodplain development. 

Through this coordination, FEMA has permitted the City a "fast-track" to a class 9. Beyond, FEMA has allowed the City an opportunity to further improve our classification by October of next year, rather than having to re-enter the CRS program.

We are working diligently to rectify the situation and regain our status in the Community Rating System to pass along potential flood insurance discounts to eligible residents. We will provide updates to the community along the process.  

You can visit the National Flood Insurance Program website for more information about flood insurance or call your insurance agent directly.

*Risk Rating 2.0 Equity in Action. (2021, April). https://www.fema.gov/sites/default/files/documents/fema_rr-2.0-equity-action_0.pdf.

Flood Warning System

If flooding is imminent and evacuation of the city is advised, the City of Bellaire will notify you through the City's listserve Notify Me, emergency notification system PrepareBellaire, social media, and Cable TV. The city will also be receiving information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio station, which broadcasts 24 hours a day along with information from the National Weather Service (NWS) Office. The local contact number is 713-668-0487.

The following links can also be useful before, during, and after major flooding events:

Receive alerts about emergencies and other important community news by signing up for our PrepareBellaire Emergency Alert Program for the City of Bellaire, Texas. Prepare Bellaire