Top 10 Cities in America at Risk for Flooding

In 2019, Flood caused over billion dollars in damage in the United States impacting 14 million Americans. Heavy rainfall, rising tides, tropical storms, and hurricanes are natural events leading to disastrous flooding.  

Taking a look at First Street Foundation’s National Flood Risk Assessment Report released June 29, 2020, we have a good understanding of cities most at risk for a flood. 

10. Portland, OR

Portland has approximately 47,254 properties at risk for flooding and continuing to increase each year. Flood and water damages have cost Portland $35.9 million so far this year in 2021. The current federal flood maps are inaccurate, estimating $173.7% fewer properties at risk than First Street Foundation's National Flood Risk Assessment Report. Residents and property owners in Portland should complete an independent and FEMA recognized flood map and risk assessment to receive accurate flood preparation data. 

Portland flood risk is due to runoff rain and snow-melt overflowing the riverbanks onto the floodplains. Continuous or heavy rain occurring west of the Cascade mountain range throughout November to March generates the highest risk for flooding. 

9. Jacksonville, FL

As sea levels rise and weather patterns change, the rate of risk for the city of Jacksonville is increasing at a rapid rate. Approximately 53,813 properties are currently at risk for flooding, 20% of the city. Experts predict within 30 years, the flood risk will increase to 70,316 residents or property owners. By September 2021, flood damages have cost $20.4 million dollars in damages.

In recent years, Jacksonville has experienced Hurricane Matthew in 2016 impacting 9,965 properties. Hurricane Irma's storm surge in 2017 impacting 351 properties. Home and business owners of Jacksonville should be aware of their flood risk and have flood protection systems in place to protect their property. 

8. Philadelphia, PA

Experts at First Street Foundation predict approximately 53,393 properties are at risk for flooding, growing to 60,577 within the next 30 years. This year $6.5 million dollars in damages have cost residents and property owners due to damages caused by flooding. Most recently, Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana on Sunday bringing a flooding and tornado threat to the Philadelphia region. In July 2021, severe storms devastated the city causing intensive damages to unprotected properties. 

7. Tampa, FL

The coastal city of Tampa is at high risk for flood impacting 54% of properties. Approximately 59,737 properties are at risk for flooding steadily increasing within the next 30 years to 73,507 properties. 

Tropical storms and hurricanes coupled with poor drainage increase the flood damage to residents and property owners. $9.4 million has cost Tampa already this year in flood damages, with experts at First Street Foundation expecting damages to increase to $140.8 million within the next 30 years. 

In 2015, Tampa experienced weeks of rain leading to drainage pools and extensive property damages. 584 properties were impacted in 2016 due to Hurricane Hermine's storm surge in August. A year later, Tampa was impacted by Hurricane Irma's in September 2017 damaging 302 properties. Are your flood protection systems up to date? If you reside in Tampa, ensure you keep your flood map and risk assessment up to date to prevent costly damages.

6. New Orleans, LA 

Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in August 2005 damaging 103,109 properties. Currently, 100% of the residents and property owners are at risk for damages due to flooding. This Sunday, category 4 Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans causing costly and extensive damages across the region. Within 30 years, First Street Foundation predicts a 270% increase in damage cost due to flooding. 

The warm atmosphere and low elevation of New Orleans leave the city at risk for severe flooding.

5. New York, NY

New York City has approximately 131,934 properties at risk for flooding, with flood damages costing $177.2 million dollars by September 2021. Within 30 years, experts have predicted a 62% increase to $286.5 million dollars in damages. In 2012, 34,719 properties were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. In New York City, flood zones prepare for flood using outdated flood maps leaving communities at a greater danger for devastating flood damages. The cities dense population and large infrastructure cause costs due to flood damages more extreme than other regions. 

4. Houston, TX

Houston, TX resides on a flat landscape and hard soil decreasing the ability to drain water causes an increased risk for flood. First Street Foundation predicts 206,585 properties are currently at risk with flood damages costing residents $70.8 million this year. In September 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused intense flooding damaging 204,311 properties in the Houston region. Accurate flood map data is important to understand your flood risk. Property owners in Houston should prepare for a flood event with flood barriers or protection systems. 

3. Chicago, IL

Chicago flood risk is rated high due to the unmapped flood risk zones. First Street Foundation shows a dramatic difference in properties at risk when compared to FEMA's flood risk analysis. Currently, First Street Foundation predicts approximately 20% of properties are at risk leaving 7% of residents unprepared for a flood event. This year, flooding has cost property owners $70.6 million dollars in damages.  

2. Los Angeles, California

In 1862, the Great Flood filled the Central Vallery of California destroying many small towns in the area. Today, Los Angeles is home to over 14 million people. With extreme rainfall events becoming more common, the risk of a catastrophic flood event is increasing. Today, approximately 20% or 151,988 properties are at risk in Los Angeles. Flooding has caused $68.2 million in damages already this year. 

1. Cape Coral, FL

According to experts at First Street Foundation, 99% or 111,899 of properties in Cape Coral are currently at risk for flooding with FEMA maps showing only 20% flood zone area. $187.1 million in damages have been caused due to flooding this year, with estimates damages are to increase 159% within the next 30 years.  

David Wilcox, owner of Wilcox Family Insurance said, “FEMA claims that there’s 27 percent of everybody flooded nationwide on a yearly basis happen to be in B flood zones or flood zones that are not considered flood zones or necessary flood zones for loan purposes.”

Residents and property owners of Cape Coral need to take the necessary action to prepare for flooding. Receiving a third-party flood map recognized by FEMA and insurance carriers will allow proper flood planning, protection, and lower insurance premiums.