We look at a number of factors, including safety and cost. Some questions we ask are:
- What is flooding? Is it a house, a yard or a street that is flooding?
- Are there multiple properties in the same area that are flooding?
- Is there a safe way in and out of the neighborhood during a flood?
- Could improvements to the City’s infrastructure help with this problem? Would increasing the capacity of the storm drain system or raising the roadway help?
- Is there a cost-effective solution?
- Is the problem potentially life threatening?
- Is there a nearby erosion or water quality issue that could also be addressed with a project?
- Is the flooding likely to happen again?
Keep monitoring the situation and get ready to potentially evacuate or move to the second floor or roof. The flooding may get much worse very fast. In Austin, our creeks can rise several feet in just a few minutes. Keep in mind that the road providing access to your home may become impassible before water enters your house. Leave before the road is flooded. Do not attempt to drive or walk through a flooded road.
If there’s time, the following steps can help limit damage:
• Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary. • Move valuables, such as important papers, jewelry, and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations. • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach and rinsing. • Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills, and trash cans inside, or tie them down securely.
There may be many reasons:
- There may not be a cost effective solution at this time.
- The problem may be strictly between private property owners. Without a drainage easement, the City cannot do anything to address a drainage issue.
- We may not know about the issue.
- We may have a project planned, but it could still be in the planning or design stages.
- The issue may not be as urgent as other drainage problems.
In our Master Plan, we identified enough projects to keep us busy until 2040. With so much need, we must carefully prioritize which projects get done first. For more information about how we prioritize projects, please see the answer to “How does the City decide which flooding situations to address first?”
Call 3-1-1. The Watershed Protection Department will send someone to document the flooding. This helps us understand where projects are necessary.
Call your homeowners insurance company and follow their instructions to file a claim and repair your house. A separate flood insurance policy is required to cover damages due to flooding. Here are some precautions:
- Check for structural damage before entering your house. Don’t go in if the building might collapse.
- Do not use matches, cigarette lighters, or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Use a flashlight.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
- Look out for snakes and other animals.
- Be careful walking around. Look for nails, broken glass or other hazards. Floors may be slippery due to mud.
- Document the damage with photographs.
- Clean right away. Throw out food and medicines that may have come in contact with flood water.
- Boil water vigorously for five minutes until local authorities proclaim your water supply is safe.
- Before you start repairs, contact the Development Assistance Center at 512-974- 6370 about possible permitting requirements.
Download this FEMA publication to find out more about repairing your home: Repairing Your Flooded Home.
Development is not allowed to cause additional flooding to other properties. Any time impervious cover is increased, there is the potential for increased stormwater runoff. Impervious cover includes roofs, parking lots, streets, driveways and other areas where the landscape cannot absorb rainfall. To combat this problem, the City of Austin requires all new developments to ensure that they will not adversely impact downstream properties. Developers are required to either provide on-site flow controls or pay fees for regional flood control projects.
A watershed is the area of land that drains to a particular location. In Austin, watersheds typically refer to the land draining to one of our larger creeks.
The 100-year storm is an event that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. To put that in perspective, during the span of a 30-year mortgage, there is a 26% chance that a 100-year event will occur.
The amount of rainfall necessary to produce a 100-year storm is partially dependent on the duration of the storm. If the rain falls over the course of 3 hours, it takes about 6 inches for it to be classified as a 100-year rainfall. But if those same 6 inches fall over the course of 3 days, it would be considered a much smaller rainfall event. The standard 100-year design storm for the City of Austin has a duration of 24-hours and produces a total rainfall of over 10 inches. To learn more about rainfall return periods in Austin, see section 2 of the Drainage Criteria Manual.
During a large storm, it is normal for the intensity to vary widely across the city. In September 2010, Tropical Storm Hermine produced rainfall totals equivalent to a 100-year storm over portions of the Bull Creek watershed. However, other areas of Austin did not experience as severe a storm. Keep in mind that even if a large storm has recently occurred, there is the same percent chance of an equally large storm occurring the following year.
Turn Around - Don’t Drown. Approximately 75% of flood fatalities occur in vehicles. Try to avoid driving during heavy rainfall. If you must drive, look for water over the road, avoid low water crossings, and turn around if a road is barricaded or if there is water over the roadway. Keep in mind that at night, during heavy storms, it may be difficult to see that a road is flooded.
There are many other dangers during a flood as well. In general, stay away from creeks and drainage infrastructure during rainfall.
There is more information about flood safety on our Flood Safety and Preparedness page.
In the right circumstances, almost any road can flood. The ones listed below are the ones that flood most frequently:
- W. 12th St. from Lamar to Shoal Creek Blvd.
- W. 32nd St. at Hemphill Park
- E. 38 1/2 St. between Grayson and Airport Blvd.
- Adelphi Ln. between Scribe Dr. and Waters Park Rd.
- E. Alpine Rd. between Willow Springs and Warehouse Row
- Burleson Rd. between U.S. 183 and FM 973
- Carson Creek Blvd. between Cool Shadow Dr. and Warrior Ln.
- Colton-Bluff Springs Rd. by Alum Rock Dr.
- Convict Hill Rd. between Flaming Oak Place and MoPAC
- David Moore Dr. north of Sweetwater River Dr.
- Delwau Ln. at Shelton Rd.
- W. Dittmar between Loganberry and S. Congress
- Joe Tanner Ln., near Hwy. 290
- Johnny Morris Rd. between FM 969 and Loyola Ln.
- Lakewood Dr., 6700 block
- W. Monroe St. between S. First and Roma St.
- McNeil Dr. between Camino and Burnet
- Nuckols Crossing at Teri Rd.
- Parkfield Dr. from Thornridge to Mearns Meadow
- Possum Trot between Inland Place and Quarry Rd.
- Old Bee Caves Road, near Hwy. 290
- Old San Antonio Rd. between FM 1626 and IH 35
- Old Spicewood Springs Road, between Loop 360 and Spicewood Springs Rd.
- O’Neal Ln., between MoPAC service road and Waters Park Rd.
- Posten Ln., 7900 block
- River Hills Rd., off Cuernavaca
- Rogge Ln. between Ridgemont and Delwood Dr.
- Rutland from Mearns Meadow to N. Lamar
- Spicewood Springs Road, between Loop 360 and Old Lampasas Trl.
- Springdale Rd. from Ferguson to Breeds Hill Dr.
- Wasson Rd. near S. Congress Ave.
- Waters Park Rd. between 183 and MoPAC
To find out if a road is flooded, check www.ATXfloods.com.