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New study finds Flood Plains growing in area

Luce, Jackson Bayou, San Jacinto enlarge


EAST HARRIS COUNTY—Flooding is a way of life in East Harris County. With a majority of residents living in close proximity to the Goose Creek, Jackson Bayou, Luce’s Bayou and San Jacinto River watersheds it is usually only a matter of time before residents see water come onto their property.

A recent study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Harris County Flood Control District will, for the first time, give property owners an advance look at how the new Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DIRMS) will be drawn. These maps are used by insurance companies in calculating flood insurance rates based on flooding risks.

The study comes out of the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project, which began in 2001 following the storm which caused over $5 billion in damage and took 22 lives.

According to the Flood Control District the new data comes in the form of maps which show the 1% and .2% (100 and 500 year) flood plains and the flood ways for each watershed. A watershed is the land area that ultimately drains rainfall into a common outlet, such as a body of water. The 1% and .2% figures indicate the chances that a base flood would flood an area from an adjacent bayou or creek.

For the first time, the Flood Control District is releasing the data prior to the release of preliminary DFIRMS, which should be in late Spring or early Summer.

According to the maps released most of the watersheds have become larger, with more residences now included in their respective flood plains.

“The Harris County Flood Control District is providing Flood Hazard Recovery Data now in order to provide the public and their communities as much time as possible to learn about possible changes to the mapped flood plains and floodways,” said Mike Talbott, director of the Harris County Flood Control District.

The new data can be found online at At this site, residents can type in their address or zip code to find out if they are within the expected new flood plains.

Living outside a flood plain is not guarantee that a property will not be flooded. In 2001, 65% of homes flooded from Allison were outside a flood plain.