Flood Protection Information For You and Your Property

The City of Lubbock is dedicated to minimizing the loss of life and property that is associated with flooding events, and providing residents with a safe environment to live, work, and play. Education and prevention are valuable and proven tools that help communities become resistant to natural disasters. Now is the perfect time to make sure you are knowledgeable on how to protect yourself and your property for the next major storm.

Natural and Beneficial Functions
A floodplain is the normally dry area, usually low land adjacent to a waterbody or watercourse that is inundated on a periodic basis with flood waters. The flood zones within the City of Lubbock generally occur adjacent to the playa lakes and the Canyon. The playa lakes act as regional detention basins and function together as a system. Some playa lakes are unable to contain the amount of storm water within the banks of the lake and overflow to another playa lake downstream. The path the overflowing water takes is also designated as a floodplain. There are storm sewer pipe networks installed in some locations that help to convey the water to the next playa lake downstream or to the Canyon. The playa lakes and the storm sewer network help to drain the city’s 123 square miles. Water quality is improved through the natural filtering of nutrients and impurities from runoff. Floodplains also provide conveyance which reduces flood velocities and flood peaks. They provide open space and areas for active and passive uses. Often the City uses this open space as parks and green space for the citizen’s of Lubbock to enjoy.

Flood Hazard
Lubbock is located on the Llano Estacado in the Panhandle of Texas. The city is susceptible to flash flooding from short but intense rainfall events, as well as urban flooding such as low lying areas and street flooding. In recent years, the rainfall events have been infrequent, but intense. In September of 2008, the City experienced localized heavy rainfall. This intense event was recorded as 7.8 inches over a 24 hour time period. In July of 2010, the City also experienced localized heavy rainfall over the course of three days. The damage from the events was a result of heavy rainfall and widespread flooding. The Lubbock area recorded several locations with rainfalls totals in excess of 7 inches.

Flood Insurance
Basic homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from floods. The City of Lubbock participates in the National Flood Insurance Program which means that federally subsidized flood insurance is available to everyone in the city, regardless of location and past damage. Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank or loan company when they obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies just cover the building’s structure and not the contents; however, you may purchase both contents and building coverage. Remember there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective, and that the policy must be renewed annually. The City of Lubbock also participates in the Community Rating System, a voluntary federal program that rewards communities that implement higher standards by providing discounts on flood insurance policies. Lubbock’s efforts enable property owners in the floodplain to get a 10% discount and some property owners outside the floodplain may be eligible for a 5% discount. For more information about flood insurance, contact the National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov, Storm Water Engineering at 806-775-2331, or by calling your insurance agent.

Development Requirements
All development in the Lubbock floodplain requires a permit per the Lubbock Code of Ordinances. Development includes, but is not limited to, all new construction, filling, grading, and paving. Substantially damaged or improved structures, where the cost of repair (regardless of the cause of damage) or improvements to a structure equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s market value, also require building permits and elevation certificates, and are held to the same standards as new construction. One basic standard Lubbock adheres to in its floodplain ordinance is the requirement of all new construction and substantially improved structures to be built at a minimum of 12 inches above top of curb or higher to provide some added protection to structures, but does not eliminate the flooding threat. Contact Storm Water Engineering for advice before you construct or place anything in the floodplain to ensure that the proper regulations are followed. Without these provisions, subsidized flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program would not be available to property owners in Lubbock. Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal, and such activity should be reported to Storm Water Engineering. Permit information can also be obtained at the Storm Water Engineering located in City Hall at 1625 13th Street, Room 107.

Property Protection
Rather than wait for a flood to occur, you can act now to protect your property from flood damage. Even if you’ve never flooded before, in the life of a 30-year mortgage, there is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood if a property is located in the floodplain. Various retrofitting techniques are available to help minimize flooding such as elevating the building, constructing barriers out of fill or concrete, and floodproofing to make the building watertight. Because of Lubbock’s susceptibility to intense rainfall events, even areas outside of the mapped floodplain may experience flooding. Storm Water Engineering provides homeowners with information on how to select methods for reducing flooding risks. There are several publications on retrofitting in the Lubbock Public Library that can help you decide which technique is best for you and your property.

Flood Protection Assistance
Citizens can obtain information on flood protection assistance from Storm Water Engineering by calling 806-775-2331. Flood protection assistance provided by Storm Water Engineering includes site-specific flood and flood related data, data on historical flooding in the neighborhood, and sources for financial assistance. The State of Texas administers several mitigation grants that may help property owners protect their floodprone structures. The funds could be used for acquisition, elevation, retrofitting, or other forms of property protection. More information can be obtained by visiting the website at www.twdb.texas.gov/flood/grant/fma.asp.

Drainage System Maintenance
It is illegal in Lubbock to dump any type of debris into a stream, drainage ditch, storm sewer or playa lake. Debris can become entangled in culverts and channels and impede drainage causing the flow of water to back up. Citizens should do their part to keep ditches, inlets and channels free of debris, and to discourage grass clippings, oil, and other contaminants from getting in storm sewer inlets and playa lakes. Debris dumping should be reported to the Storm Water Hotline at 806-775-3118.

Flood Information
Citizens can obtain flood information such as flood zone designations, copies of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), Flood Insurance Studies (FIS), letters of map changes, mandatory flood insurance purchase requirements, floodplain development regulations, and Standard Operating Procedures from the Storm Water Engineering Department. Elevation certificates of structures built in the floodplain are also available and on file at the Storm Water Engineering Department. Copies are available upon request.

Flood Safety
  • Learn the safest route from your property to higher, safer ground, but stay tuned to reports of changing flood conditions.
  • Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood related deaths. Currents can be deceptive, and six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
  • Do not drive through a flooded area. The majority of vehicle-related deaths are caused by drivers trying to cross flooded streets.
  • If emergency officials tell you to evacuate or leave your home, go immediately to a safe shelter, hotel, or relative’s house.
  • Turn off all utilities, gas, and electricity at the main switch. Stay away from power lines and electrical lines.

City of Lubbock Storm Water
Management Department
1625 13th Street, Room 107