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.
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.
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 also participates in the Community Rating System, a voluntary federal program that rewards communities that implement higher standards by providing discounts on flood insurance policies. Bellaire's efforts enable property owners in the floodplain to get a 10% discount and some property owners outside the floodplain may be eligible for a 5% discount. For more information about flood insurance, you can visit the National Flood Insurance Program website, call the City's Floodplain Manager at 713-662-8243, or call your insurance agent. The following FEMA publications may also provide more information:
- Things You Should Know about Flood Insurance
- Summary of Coverage
- Understanding Your Flood Insurance Policy (PDF)
- Cheaper Flood Insurance: 5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Your Flood Insurance Premium
- Mandatory Purchase of Flood Insurance Guidelines
- Flood Insurance Claims Handbook
- Filing Your Flood Insurance Claim
- Appealing Your Flood Insurance Claim (PDF)
- Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program
- Flood Insurance Information (PDF)
- Turn Around, Don't Drown Handout (PDF)
Flood Insurance Rate Maps
Flood Insurance Rate Maps are issued by FEMA to identify different levels of flood risks. The Flood Insurance Rate Maps are primarily used for flood insurance purposes, but they also provide a basis for Bellaire to regulate development within those areas. The location of a property relative to certain flood zones indicates what restrictions may be placed on new and substantially improved construction. FEMA's Flood Insurance and Flood Maps (PDF) explains the different flood zones.
Flood Insurance Rate Maps are available for viewing through the links listed below, at the Building Department located at 7008 S. Rice, or directly through FEMA's Map Service Center. The links listed below are the Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Flood Insurance Studies issued for the City of Bellaire. The maps used by the city for compliance purposes (and those used by insurance agents) are the most recent (June 18, 2007); however, it is helpful for citizens to have access to all the maps to know what flood zone was in effect at the time of construction.
Flood Warning System
If flooding is imminent and evacuation of the city is advised, the City of Bellaire will notify you through local radio and Cable TV. The city will also be receiving information from the National Oceanic andamp; 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:
- Harris County Flood Control District - Flood Education Mapping Tool
- Harris County River and Lake Water Levels
- Harris County Office of Emergency Management
(Sign up to receive alerts during an emergency.)