From the mountains in the north to the Gulf Coast, we live in a beautiful state. Unfortunately, we get visits from tropical storms, hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms. That’s why we need to protect our homes from flooding.
In this article we rank the top cities at risk of flooding and provide insight on insurance coverage as well as what to do now to protect your home.
Top Alabama Cities at Risk of Flooding
The 2020 First National Flood Risk Assessment (FNFRA) estimated that 334,900 properties are at substantial risk of flooding in Alabama. This is considerably above the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps that identify 187,900 properties at risk.
The FNFRA assessment takes into account areas that FEMA hasn’t yet mapped, adds precipitation as a separate risk, and includes current climate data. The FNFRA study also identifies 439,300 properties at risk over the next 30 years. This includes 94,000 properties with a 99% chance of flooding at least once during that time.
Here are the top 10 cities showing total properties at risk along with the percentage of total properties.
|#||City/Town||Total Properties at Risk / % of Total Properties|
|1.||Mobile||24,070 – 29%|
|2.||Birmingham||16,932 – 17%|
|3.||Huntsville||13,213 – 16%|
|4.||Decatur||8,242 – 34%|
|5.||Montgomery||7,936 – 10%|
|6.||Selma||7,366 – 73%|
|7.||Gadsden||6,405 – 26%|
|8.||Gulf Shores||4,135 – 43%|
|9.||Tuscaloosa||3,780 – 11%|
|10.||Scottsboro||3,735 – 42%|
Our Hometowns’ Flooding Risks
Digging deeper into the FNFRA assessment, we’ve provided further insight into the locations in Alabama where we have offices. They rank first through third and a fifth thrown in for good measure!
Looking at Mobile, a broader review to take in all of Mobile County shows 38,977 properties at risk of flooding in the FNFRA assessment. That’s 80% higher than the 21,703 properties shown in the FEMA listing.
Birmingham, ranking number two above, has seven counties in the greater metropolitan area: Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, and Walker. The total number of properties at risk of flooding is 65,599 in the FNFRA assessment, compared to 23,178 in the FEMA maps, an increase of 183%.
Huntsville encompasses Madison, Limestone, and Morgan counties. The number of properties at risk of flooding across all three counties is 29,160 in the FNFRA assessment, nearly double the number listed by FEMA, which is 14,260.
The Montgomery metropolitan statistical area includes Autauga, Elmore, Lowndes, and Montgomery counties. The FNFRA assessment identifies 17,404 properties at risk of flooding, while the FEMA listings show 12,961, or 34% fewer properties.
More than half a million (548,600) Alabama home and property owners have made FEMA flood damage insurance claims since 2000. The counties with the greatest number of claims were Baldwin, Conecuh, Jefferson, Madison, and Mobile.
FEMA estimates that just one inch of water in a 2,500-square-foot single-story home can cause $23,635 in damage to the home, along with $3,172 in damage to personal property. From this, you can tell that it makes sense to purchase flood insurance.
You’ll need to purchase separate flood insurance. Homeowner’s insurance covers damage only from internal sources of water, such as leaking or burst pipes. This type of insurance does not cover damage from external sources caused by rain, storms, or flooding.
Flooding Protection for Your Home
- Make Sure Your Gutters and Downspouts Are Clear. Clear out any leaves and gunk that could impact the flow of water through your gutters and downspouts. In addition, make sure your landscape is graded to slope away from your foundation. Downspout extensions also positioned at a downward sloping angle can help to move water away from your basement or crawl space.
- Use Basement or Crawl Space Waterproofing. An internal drainage system with a sump pump and battery backup can prevent leaks before they become a serious flood.
- Purchase and Install Flood Sensors. These sensors detect any rising water and provide an alert to help you take immediate action. You may be able to add these to your security system or use a separate smartphone app.
- Add Backflow Valves. Drainpipes can back up due to flooding. Install backflow valves to prevent raw sewage from entering and contaminating your home.
- Install Flood Vents. Water pressure on your basement or crawl space walls can actually cause them to collapse. It’s far better to use flood vents to allow that water to enter and equalize the pressure.
- Build with Flood-Resistant Drywall and Insulation. These materials are designed to minimize water damage and to make for easier cleanup after the flooding.
- Elevate Utilities. Raise washing machines, dryers, and water heaters above the expected flooding levels. You can also move electrical wiring and outlets higher.
- Store Valuables in Waterproof Containers. Whenever possible, store them on an upper floor or at least move them when flooding appears imminent.
There’s nothing more valuable than your family. In case of flooding in your home, move to a higher floor or evacuate the premises if you’re in immediate danger from rising waters.
Preparing Your Home
Working through the list above is a good start toward preparing your home for flooding.
We also recommend that you consult the professionals at AFS Foundation and Waterproofing Specialists for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that need attention in preparation for heavy rains and flooding.