Harris County Flood Control District Unveils New Flood Education Mapping Tool and Website

September 29, 2011

The Harris County Flood Control District has launched a new Flood Education Mapping Tool and website to help educate Harris County residents about their flooding risks.

The new mapping tool and website can be accessed from the Flood Control District’s website, www.hcfcd.org.

The new Flood Education Mapping Tool is an educational resource for the residents of Harris County providing information about the mapped floodplains in Harris County relative to residences, businesses and other structures. It builds on the mapping tool that was created through the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project, a multi‐year, joint initiative of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Flood Control District in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Allison 10 years ago.

The effort produced a new Flood Insurance Rate Map, commonly called a FIRM or floodplain map, for Harris County and its 22 major watersheds.

“Information about TSARP, as well as the original interactive mapping tool, was located on a dedicated website, www.tsarp.org, for many years,” said Heather Saucier, Harris County Flood Control District spokeswoman. “Harris County residents used the mapping tool to learn the location of their structures in relation to the mapped 1 percent (100‐year), 0.2 percent (500‐year) and coastal floodplains. Having recently marked the 10‐year anniversary of Tropical Storm Allison, the Flood Control District is launching a mapping tool with an updated look and new features. The TSARP website served a valuable purpose for a decade and has been retired with the launch of the Flood Education Mapping Tool.”

Some of the prominent new features of the Flood Education Mapping Tool include:

  • Regular updates to mapped floodplains in Harris County as they are revised by FEMA
  • An interactive legend with pop‐up “tool tips” that help users get the most of out of each legend item
  • Easy map navigation
  • Known ponding areas where stormwater typically collects when rainfall exceeds the capacity of a street’s drainage system or the land’s ability to drain

The Flood Education Mapping Tool also includes a glossary and frequently‐asked questions that generally address topics about flooding risks, floodplains and flood insurance. The new site also contains updated information about TSARP.

Flood Control District officials stressed the mapping tool was for informative and educational use and not for official purposes such as providing an official floodplain determination. While the floodplains shown on the mapping tool are the floodplains delineated on FEMA’s effective FIRM for Harris County, the mapping tool is not the effective FIRM.

Residents can visit FEMA’s Map Service Center at www.msc.fema.gov or call 1‐877‐FEMA‐MAP (1‐877‐336‐2627) to obtain the official FIRM for Harris County.

Residents wanting an official floodplain determination for flood insurance purposes should contact their insurance agent or mortgage lender. Floodplain determinations are not made by FEMA, the Flood Control District or by local floodplain administrators.

To complement this effort to provide the public with tools to help better understand their flooding risks, the Flood Control District has introduced the automated Floodplain Information Line at 713‐684‐4150.

The Floodplain Information Line provides answers in English and in Spanish to frequently asked questions about topics including:

  • General floodplain information,
  • Instructions on how to obtain an official FEMA FIRM,
  • Instructions on how to obtain a floodplain determination from official sources, such as mortgage lenders and insurance agents, and
  • Information on flood insurance and Elevation Certificates.

Harris County’s FIRM was officially adopted by the city of Houston, unincorporated Harris County and the 33 other municipalities of Harris County on June 18, 2007.

The FIRM is used by the National Flood Insurance Program to set flood insurance rates and by local government entities to assist in floodplain management and in the regulation of land development.

The Flood Control District also uses the FIRM to help assess the need for capital improvement projects.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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