As the majority of Southeast Texas begins to recover from Harvey, some of us might be asking ourselves the following questions….1. What if this happens again? 2. What if these storms begin to hit more frequently and with more rain each year? 3. Should I just get my insurance and/or FEMA money and move somewhere else? and 4. If so, is there a safer place in my city to live that won’t flood at all?
Well, as to the first 2 questions, APEX cannot answer. We are not authorities on climate change or the effects it might have on the frequency or strength of storms to come. Click here for in interesting take on storm frequency. As one of our own Port Arthur properties remains underwater, we are more concerned with the 3rd and 4th questions.
As to the 3rd question: Should I just get my insurance and/or FEMA money and move somewhere else? The answer to this question is going to vary from one household to the next. Leaving a home you’ve loved or shared with your children is never an easy thing to do. The fact of the matter is that selling a flooded house is equally as difficult. If you live in a house you never intend to sell, staying may make sense. Otherwise, if you had water inside your house our advice is to get out before it happens again. A house that floods is not only a financial money pit, but a safety hazard as well.
To the 4th question…Is there a safer place in my city to live that won’t flood at all?? We believe the answer to that is simple. YES!! There are plenty of places to live that did not flood at all.
To find them here’s what we suggest: Find your counties floodplain mapping tool below and zoom in on your current location.
Let’s use Harris County as an example. Each mapping tool works basically the same in that they all have options to the left of the screen that allow you to control what is displayed on the map. FEMA’s map is a bit more extensive than Harris and Fort Bend, but they work generally the same way. Take note: they only have models up to a 500 yr flood event (or .2 PCT annual chance of flood). Nothing beyond that. So, as Harris County Flood Control District Meteorologist Jeff Lindner eluded to, Tropical Storm Harvey and the destruction it causes will be used to define the boundaries for the 800 yr (.125 PCT annual chance of flood) and possibly the 1000 yr (.1 PCT annual chance of flood) flood models.
After zooming in on your area, if your house is in any of the dark or light blue regions then you probably already have flood insurance or are aware that your house occasionally is going to flood. We advise those of you who live in a 500 yr flood zone and do not have flood insurance to make sure you get flood insurance if you are not going to move. If you did flood but are not in any of the blue areas, then you have just been a victim of a 800 or 1000 yr flood. Which means, the map that shows your property’s true risk of flood doesn’t exist and won’t exist until they get all the data needed to make it. So for the time being, if your house flooded but is outside of the 500 yr flood plain, we suggest keeping a minimum of 1000 feet between your new house and the 500 yr flood line. Although not official, this distance checks out with several of APEX’s properties. The properties we own that are inside or close to the 500 yr line all flooded. Our new rule of thumb: get behind the line.
In summary, whether you fix and stay, fix and sell, or sell without fixing it all, if you want to be absolutely sure you won’t flood during the next Hurricane, these mapping tools are a great way to do your due diligence when picking your next home location. In time, these maps should be updated to incorporate the 800 yr and 1000 yr flood models. Then we will have a more accurate representation of what can happen from an event of Harvey’s magnitude. Even then, we can never know with 100% certainty where flood waters are going to go and where they won’t go. That is why this storm and the flooding it caused will be used to set the all time boundaries in terms of safety during a flood event in Southeast Texas.
Even after the maps are updated, the best source to finding a property that stayed dry may be word of mouth. Reaching out to your community to find out which neighborhoods only had water in the street and which ones actually had water in the houses could prove an invaluable source in locating your next home. You can also bet that www.har.com and www.zillow.com will be boasting about those properties that withstood the test of Harvey.
-APEX Home Buyers Team – we’d like to extend our deepest condolences to all those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey. We are offering free relocation assistance and free moving services to all our clients during this difficult time of need. Let’s rebuild our city and show everyone how strong Houston is! #Houstonstrong