Attorney Dax Garza
According to the National Flood Insurance Program, all 50 states have experienced some type of flooding, and all homes and businesses are susceptible to damage. Since flood damage is not typically included in a standard homeowners insurance policy, homeowners are instead required to obtain a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Even if you are not located in a flood prone area, flooding can happen to anyone at any time. From 2014 to 2018 alone, 40 percent of NFIP flood insurance claims were filed for properties outside of a high-risk flood zone.
Flooding can be caused by heavy rain, melting snow, spring thaws, tropical storms, hurricanes, and other types of natural disasters. In fact, 90% of all U.S. natural disasters involve some sort of flooding component, making floods the number one natural disaster in the United States. For the past four years, hurricanes have caused above-average flooding – particularly with Hurricane Harvey’s impact in the Houston Metro area.
Houston, Texas Flood Damage Law
Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 worth of damage to your home, according to the NFIP’s official website. Homeowners’ flood insurance may cover a wide variety of damages, including but not limited to:
Flood waters exert an enormous amount of pressure, which can cause tremendous structural damage to a home. Both the foundation and the overall structure of a house can become compromised due to the force of the water pressure. Water can seep through solid concrete slabs, flow through cracks and holes, and strain the wood framing and any metal connectors inside the walls.
Because water also ebbs and flows, moving water can become another threat to a home’s structural integrity. Flood water moving at a speed of 10 miles per hour exerts the same pressure as a wind gust of 270 miles per hour.
Plumbing and Electrical Systems
Flood waters generally contain a fair amount of debris and sediment, which can infiltrate the plumbing systems in a home if flooding rose above the drainage pipes, leading to clogs and damaged pipes. If flood waters were stagnant for a period of time, the weight of the water combined with the soil and sediment could crush underground lines.
As water conducts electricity, any electrical component exposed to water for even a brief amount of time must be replaced – only after the home is inspected by a qualified electrician to determine the safety of the home’s electrical system.
Large Electrical Appliances
Many of a home’s major appliances are located on the ground floor or even in a basement. If a refrigerator, dishwasher, oven, and/or water heater is compromised by flood waters, they will need to be replaced. The same is true for central air conditioning and heating systems.
Mold and Mildew
Mold can begin growing within just 24 to 48 hours of a flood, and it will continue to grow until the source of the moisture is eliminated. Mold and mildew can grow on wood, drywall, carpet, insulation, ceiling tiles, wallpaper, clothing, food, and more. In addition to damaging your home, mold can cause mild to severe health problems, such as irritation of the eyes or skin, respiratory problems, and sinus congestion, among others.
Flood Insurance Claims
When flood damage does happen, it usually impacts an entire neighborhood, city, or even county. In these cases, insurance companies tend to minimize the damage in order to pay out as little as possible per flood. Even though the National Flood Insurance Program is funded through FEMA, it is often sold and brokered through private insurance companies as part of the Write-Your-Own (WYO) program, which was launched in 1983.
The program was launched to outsource overhead costs associated with FEMA administering and paying out claims to policyholders. This arrangement is typically quite lucrative for private insurers because they collect costs and fees for administering claims, while FEMA foots the bill. However, it can lead to delays, denials, and underpayments of flood insurance claims – usually at a time when homeowners need the money most.
Owning a home in the greater Houston area can be a rewarding experience for many. While having a space to retreat to for comfort and to build new memories in can be a great joy for those entering into homeownership, it can also bring about several concerns – importantly, whether or not the home you plan to move into is located within one of Houston’s most flood-prone areas. Knowing where exactly these areas are located can help future homeowners know what to anticipate before they move in.
Top Flood Prone Areas in Houston
The greater Houston area is no stranger to flooding events. From the disastrous flooding caused by Hurricane Allison in 2001 to the extreme floods caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and every other rising water and/or flood event in between, it’s no wonder why our city poses cause for concern for homeowners.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), from 1996 to 2015, Harris County experienced 96 days with at least one report of flooding or flash flooding. Overall, this equates to an average of four or five days of flooding each year during that period – even in the late fall and winter months. Aside from major events like hurricanes and tropical storms, regular thunderstorms tend to flow and stall near the Gulf Coast, causing rain to quickly accumulate, often resulting in flooding.
With this in mind, homeowners and prospective homeowners need to know exactly where Houston’s most flood-prone areas are. This is especially important because even though Houston is so vast, inland areas can and do still see large amounts of flooding. This was especially true during Hurricane Harvey when areas outside of the city’s floodplain were among those that experienced the most significant amounts of flooding.
Some of the top flood-prone and high water areas and streets in Houston include:
- Brays Oak, Including Bob White, Millbanks, and Ravensworth
- Central Southwest, Including Paddington and Holmes Road
- Greater 5th Ward, Bringhurst, Jensen Drive, and Cline
- Greater Heights, Including Houston Avenue and 26th Street
- Greater Uptown, Including Ella Lee, Pagewood, Judalon
- Greenway/Upper Kirby, Including Suffolk
- Kingwood Area, Including Chestnut Ridge, Northpark Drive, Hidden Pines, Brookdale, Bassingham, Valley Rose, Royal Glen, Creek Manor, Golden Willow, Shady Maple, Shady Gardens, Saint Andrews, and Garden Village
- Lake Houston, Including Sunny Glen and Shore Shadow
- Medical Center Area, Including Holcombe Boulevard and Fannin
- Memorial, Including Wax Myrtle
- Meyerland, Including Beechnut
- Midtown, Including Bremond and Anita
- Northside/Northline, Including Shepherd Drive and Nordling
- Sharpstown, Including Bellerive
- Spring Branch Area, Including Woodvine, Stillwood, and Campbell
- Trinity/Houston Gardens, Including Laura Koppe
- Washington Avenue/Memorial Park, Including Center, Kiam, Tyne, Malone, and Birdsall
How Flooding Impacts Houston Homeowners
Flood damage can have a major impact on homeowners. Not to be confused with water damage, flood damage is often much more difficult to deal with. Water originating from a natural disaster such as a hurricane or tropical storm causes floods, while other types of water damage can be caused by relatively minor events such as plumbing leaks. According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a flood is a partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land or two or more properties.
Flood events can result in a variety of issues including structural damage to a home. When a flood happens quickly, the sheer force of the moving water can result in direct damage to a home’s foundation, siding, and walls. This structural damage can get worse the longer standing water is present in the home, as wood and drywall become increasingly compromised. Even after floodwaters recede, the wood will remain waterlogged for a long time unless special efforts are made to dry it thoroughly.
Floods can also cause great damage to the electrical wiring and related components of a home. Although pure water is a poor conductor of electricity, floodwater is different in that it is full of electrolytes that can make it a good electrical conductor. This can make it incredibly dangerous to return to the home after a flood without the proper gear. This is because all floodwater contains dissolved ions that can not only create the risk of electrocution hazards but can also corrode electrical equipment they come into contact with. Electrical receptacles, appliances, HVAC equipment, switches, and breaker panels are all susceptible to serious damage, even after they are dried out.
Mold and mildew growth can also have a huge impact on a flooded home. While they may take time to grow, visible colonies of mold can appear within 24 to 48 hours after floodwaters have subsided. When left unchecked, these colonies can fill the air with spores which almost always require professional cleanup. Dehumidifiers and fans often need to be deployed to dry them out as thoroughly as possible to prevent further damage. Contaminated wallboards, carpeting, insulation, and upholstered furniture must be discarded. Mold present on porous surfaces like wood, tile, and concrete often has to be physically removed.
Houston Flood Damage
Unfortunately, flooding is a common concern for Houston homeowners. When floods occur, they can have a major impact on entire neighborhoods, cities, and counties. While knowing whether or not your home is located close to or within one of Houston’s flood-prone areas can help you be better informed of the potential risks and obtain the requisite insurance coverage, insurance companies often take advantage of their policyholders. Insurers use bad faith tactics to delay, undervalue, and deny flood insurance claims at the expense of Houston homeowners that have dutifully and timely paid their premiums.
The experienced flood damage attorneys of Dax F. Garza, P.C. know just how upsetting this can be. In these situations, our focus is to ensure all damage is repaired and claims are properly investigated, processed, and paid so policyholders can receive the funds they are entitled to under their policies. If your home has been damaged in a flood, contact our office today to discuss your needs free of charge.
Houston Flood Damage Attorneys
Our law firm is more than experienced in dealing with flood damaged properties and the companies that insure them. Our focus is to see that all damage is repaired and that all clients receive the funds to which they are entitled under their policy. If your property was damaged in a flood, contact Dax F. Garza, P.C. as soon as possible to discuss your case at no charge.