The City of Baytown recognizes that areas of the city are subject to periodic flooding which results in the loss of life and property, health and safety hazards, disruption of commerce and governmental services and extraordinary public expenditures for flood protection and relief, all of which adversely affect the public health, safety and general welfare. Many of these flood losses are created by the cumulative effect of obstructions in floodplains, which cause increases in flood heights and velocities, and by the encroachment of flood hazard areas by developments and improvements that are vulnerable to floods and hazardous to other lands because they are inadequately elevated, floodproofed or otherwise protected from flood damage.
Our historical partnership with FEMA and participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) allows our residents to obtain federal flood insurance at a discounted rate. The City of Baytown is currently seeking millions of dollars in federal, state and local grants for drainage improvement projects that will help reduce flooding and the impacts of flooding. Without our participation in the NFIP, Baytown residents would not be eligible for federally-backed flood insurance, increased cost of compliance grants, or emergency federal aid after a disaster; nor would the city be eligible for the drainage improvement grants.
It is our goal to promote the public health, safety and general welfare and to minimize public and private losses due to flood conditions in specific areas by enforcing provisions designed to:
- Protect human life and health;
- Minimize expenditures of public money for costly flood control projects;
- Minimize the need for rescue and relief efforts associated with flooding and generally undertaken at the expense of the general public;
- Minimize prolonged business interruptions; and
- Minimize damage to public infrastructure such as water and gas mains, electric, telephone and sewer lines, streets and bridges located in floodplains.
- Restricting or prohibiting uses that are dangerous to health, safety or property in the times of flood or that cause excessive increases in flood heights or velocities;
- Require that uses vulnerable to floods, including facilities which serve such uses, be protected against flood damage at the time of initial construction;
- Control the alteration of natural floodplains, stream channels and natural protective barriers, which are involved in the natural accommodation of floodwaters;
- Control filling, grading, dredging and other development which may increase flood damage; and
- Prevent or regulate the construction of flood barriers which will unnaturally divert floodwaters to other lands.
All development within Baytown must obtain permits. Our floodplain ordinances and adopted building codes have special provisions regulating construction and other developments within floodplains. Without these requirements, flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) would not be available to Baytown property owners. Any development in the floodplain without permits is illegal; such activity can be reported by emailing the Floodplain team.
Floodplain Mapping Resources
Below are some websites that can provide you with information about flooding in our area.
The Harris County Flood Warning System - This site is maintained by Harris County and can provide you with rainfall amounts and flood levels for Goose Creek and Cedar Bayou. You can even sign up for texts and emails to let you know that these streams are getting full.
The Harris County Flood Education Mapping Tool - This site is maintained by Harris County and provides you with information about their drainage channels, bayous and tributaries.
The NOAA Costal Flood Exposure Mapper - This site is maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and can help you understand what happens when different types of flood events happen.
The FEMA National Flood Hazard Layer Viewer - This site allows you to view your specific property and create a mini Flood Insurance Rate Map for the location you choose and download it.
Baytown residents can obtain information concerning past historical flooding, Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), flood depths, floodways and flood zone determinations from the Baytown Public Works & Engineering(External link) department.
Elevation certificates, which have been collected for properties in the Special Flood Hazard Area are on file at the Baytown Public Works & Engineering department and can be requested through an open records request.
Rather than wait for a flood to occur, you can help protect your property from flood damage. Various alternatives are available to help minimize flooding. Consider the following measures to protect it:
- Elevate the building so that flood waters are less likely to enter.
- Construct diversions between buildings and flood waters, such as banks or berms (don't forget to get a permit for this).
- Consider dry flood-proofing for non-residential structures to make the building walls and floors watertight, so water does not enter.
- Consider wet flood-proofing to modify structures and relocate the contents, so that when flood waters enter the building there is little or no damage.
- Consider back-flow protectors or other appropriate devices to prevent flooding from sewer back up or sump pump failure.
- Consider making permanent retrofitting, or permament changes to your dwelling that will protect it from flooding or other hazards.
To learn more about permanent retrofitting, visit FEMA's 6 Ways to Protect Your Home From Flooding.
To learn more about evacuation routes for your area visit TxDOT's Evacuation Routes Map.
To learn more about creating an emergency operation plan.
What is a substantial improvement?
Any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a building, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building before the start of construction of the improvement.
What is substantial damage?
Damage, regardless of origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.
Both substantial damage and substantial improvement percentages are determined by dividing the cost of the improvements and repairs by the value of your structure (as determined by either Harris County Central Appraisal District (HCAD) or Chambers County Central Appraisal District (CCAD)).
The purchase of federal flood insurance is highly recommended, even if your property is not in a Special or Moderate Flood Hazard Area. Basic homeowner's and renter's insurance policies typically do not cover damage from floods. The City of Baytown participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which means that federally subsidized flood insurance is available to everyone in the community. There is a 30-Day waiting period for a policy to take effect.
Learn more about the National Flood Insurance Program
Usually the flood insurance people purchase only covers the building structure and not the contents. During the kind of flooding that occurs in Baytown, there is usually more damage to furniture and contents than there is to the structure. In some instances, the purchase of flood insurance is mandatory. If your property is affected - don't wait, buy flood insurance. If a building is located in a Moderate or Special Flood Hazard Area, the agency or lender is required by law to require the recipient to purchase a flood insurance policy on the building. It is important to review insurance policies to ensure you are properly insured in the event of a flood.
The City of Baytown is dedicated to minimizing the loss of life and property associated with flooding events. Education and preparation are valuable and proven tools that help communities become resistant to these natural disasters. We also recognize that the entire community is susceptible to flooding, not just those structures located within the Special and Moderate Flood Hazard Areas.
Goose Creek and Cedar Bayou, and their tributaries are prone to flooding when Baytown receives large amounts of precipitation or runoff.
Here are some steps to follow to be safe when it floods:
- Learn the safest route from your home or business to higher, safer ground, but stay tuned to reports of changing flood conditions.
- I emergency officials tell you to evacuate or leave your home, go immediately to a safe shelter, hotel or friend's house.
- Turn off all utilities, gas and electricity at main switches. Stay away from power lines and electrical lines, and be alert for gas leaks.
- Don't walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood-related deaths. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock off your feet.
- Don't drive through a flooder area. More people drown in their cars than in any other location.
The regulatory floodplain is the area of the community that is expected to be impacted the most by flooding. However, living outside of the regulatory floodplain doesn't mean that a property will not flood.
In Baytown, our storm sewers are designed to carry the stormwater runoff from average storms. However, it is everyone's responsibility to ensure that stormwater systems are maintained after they are constructed.
Regardless of where you live, you and your property can be impacted by precipitation. The City of Baytown works to ensure water quality and water quantityare managed properly for the safety and overall well-being of the public and our environment.
It is illegal in Baytown to dump any type of debris into a stream, river or drainage channel. This debris impair water quality and may impede drainage, causing water to back up. Baytown residents are required to keep drainage ditches on their property free of debris, foliage and other obstructions. Residents can report illegal dumping by emailing Stormwater or calling 281-420-5300.
Areas allowed to remain in natural, open conditions offer a wide range of benefits to people and the environment:
- Provides flood storage and conveyance
- Reduces flood velocities
- Decreases flood peaks
- Water quality is improved
- Water can filter and process excess nutrients and pollutants from runoff
- Provides breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife
- Creates and enhances habitat
- Protects the integrity of ecosystems
- Report illegal dumping by emailing Stormwater or by calling 281-420-5300