Here in Colorado, we have beautiful mountains and sparkling rivers. Unfortunately, the snowmelt from those mountains and heavy rains can swell the rivers and streams, causing considerable flooding. We saw that in 2013 with 960 properties affected near Boulder and Fort Morgan.
So, what are the risks of flooding and what can we do about it?
Colorado Cities at Risk of Flooding
The 2020 First National Flood Risk Assessment (FNFRA) estimated that 131,300 properties are at substantial risk of flooding in Colorado. This is in sharp contrast to the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps that identify 43,300 properties at risk. The former takes into account areas that FEMA hasn’t yet mapped. Plus, it includes current climate data and adds precipitation as a separate risk.
Here are the top 10 cities in Colorado from the First National Flood Risk Assessment showing total properties at risk followed by the percentage of total properties.
|City||Properties at risk||Percentage of total properties|
Flooding Risk in Our Hometowns
We’ve gone deeper into the numbers for the locations in Colorado where we have offices.
Colorado Springs has the unfortunate distinction of ranking first in the state for the number of properties at risk of flooding. If we extend our review into all of El Paso County, the number of properties at risk rises to 16,328 in the FNFRA assessment. This is a staggering 424% higher than the FEMA estimate of 3,118 properties.
The city of Denver is not far behind with 10,136 properties at risk in the FNFRA assessment. If we extend our review to all 10 counties in the Denver metropolitan area (Adams, Arapahoe, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson, and Park) the number of properties at risk jumps to 36,308. That number dwarfs the FEMA estimate of 11,534 properties.
These are prime examples that the FEMA estimates fall far short of finding all the properties that are at substantial risk of flooding.
You can access the National Flood Insurance Program by using the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to map your property to determine flooding risks. From there you can purchase flood insurance.
Homeowner’s insurance doesn’t typically cover flood damage. It usually covers damage caused by internal sources such as burst pipes. It does not cover damage caused by external sources like rain, storms, or flooding.
Since 2000, the FEMA flood insurance program has seen 49,700 claims. The majority of claims came from Arapahoe, Boulder, Jefferson, Larimer, and Weld counties.
From the flood risk numbers above, you can tell that not all properties at risk will be in the FEMA risk maps. Given this, it’s wise to consult your insurance agent about your flood insurance coverage options.
Protect Your Property from Flooding
According to FEMA estimates just two inches of water in a small 1,000-square-foot home can cause $9,550 in damage to the home and $1,269 to personal property. That alone is a very good reason to do all you can to protect your home.
- Elevate Utilities. Make sure electrical wiring and outlets as well as the furnace and water heater are elevated above floor level. This will allow some water to accumulate before you’ll need to shut down electrical power to the home.
- Install Flood Sensors. Many home security systems offer flood sensors. They can detect rising water and alert you at once to take appropriate action.
- Invest in Interior Drainage. Basements or crawl spaces can be waterproofed. As one example, a sump pump with battery backup can be installed to remove leaks before they become a flood.
- Add Flood Vents. These allow water to flow through the basement or crawl space. In this way they reduce the water pressure on the foundation walls, preventing collapse.
- Prevent Sewage Backup. Installing backflow valves on drain lines can prevent sewage from backing up into your basement or crawl space. During flooding, the sewage has nowhere else to go.
- Direct Water Away from the Foundation. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. The landscaping should also be sloped to provide a path for drainage.
- Use Flood-Resistant Insulation and Drywall. This can help minimize the damage from flooding and allow for easier clean-up. Also, consider installing tile flooring rather than carpeting.
- Elevate or Remove Your Valuables. If you’re storing valuables in the basement, move them to a higher floor during flooding conditions. That same suggestion applies to a basement office.
Those are a few considerations. During any flooding, make sure you protect your family. Move to a higher floor or evacuate the premises if you’re in immediate danger from rising waters.
The list above is a good first step in preparing your home for flooding. We recommend that you consult the professionals at Complete Basement Systems 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.