The 10 Cities Most Vulnerable to Flooding in the United States

Amy Beardsley
Written byAmy Beardsley
Photo of an Insurify author
Amy BeardsleyInsurance Writer
  • 3+ years writing about auto, home, and life insurance

  • 7+ years in personal finance and technology

Amy specializes in insurance and technology writing and has a talent for transforming complex topics into easy-to-understand stories.

Featured in

media logomedia logo
Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen Vohra
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logomedia logo

Published May 9, 2023 at 5:00 PM PDT

Why you can trust Insurify: Comparing accurate insurance quotes should never put you at risk of spam. We earn an agent commission only if you buy a policy based on our quotes. Our editorial team follows a rigorous set of editorial standards and operates independently from our insurance partners. Learn more.

Floods are one of the most devastating natural disasters in the U.S. They can destroy communities and leave homeowners with costly repairs, especially in cities that are prone to hurricanes and other flood-related phenomena. In fact, a single inch of water in your home can cause $25,000 worth of property damage, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Although coastal flooding can cause significant damage, river flooding is an even greater threat. Flash floods, a common type of river flooding, can be especially dangerous due to their sudden onset and rapid rise of water levels, posing a significant threat to human life and safety.

On a state level, Louisiana and Florida have the highest flood risk. However, flood risk varies across the United States, and residents of some cities in New York and New Jersey may also find their properties at risk. Overall, homeowners in cities prone to flooding should be aware of the risks, how to mitigate them, and how to protect themselves from related costs by purchasing the right amount of flood and home insurance.

In addition to increasing your home insurance rates, high flood risk can affect the value of your home, with homes in flood-prone areas increasing in value at a much slower pace than homes not at risk. 

Sam Eckhouse, principal at ClimateCheck, says climate risk data will soon begin to affect mortgage rates as well, according to Insurify’s latest home insurance report. “Ultimately, that [climate change data] will influence lending and thereby home prices — but we’re not seeing the impact just yet,” Eckhouse told Insurify in February.

To identify the cities with the greatest flood risk in 2023, Insurify created a flood risk score, which considers FEMA’s risk scores for each city’s risk of coastal and river flooding. Insurify’s data scientists also took into account each city’s population, average home insurance premium, and average home value. 

Insights

  • Miami, Florida, has the highest flood risk score in the United States, registering a 93.5 risk score for coastal flooding and 76.6 for river flooding.

  • Cities in Florida and Texas are at particular risk for both coastal and river flooding. Seven of the 10 cities on Insurify’s list are in these states.

  • Cities in Texas are much more vulnerable to river flooding than coastal flooding, with two of the three cities on this list being at a much higher risk of river flooding. In fact, Pasadena, Texas, which is No. 5 on Insurify’s list, has the highest river flooding risk score in the entire country.

  • Hollywood, Florida, which is No. 9 on Insurify’s list, saw extraordinary damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, totaling more than $3 million, and continues to experience historic flooding of up to 18 inches of water.

  • Miami-Dade County, Florida, home to Hialeah and Miami, the top two cities with the highest flood risk, plans to spend $122 million to prepare for rising sea levels and coastal storms as part of its long-term Sea Level Rise Strategy project.

  • Brooklyn, New York, the third most flood-prone city on Insurify’s list, faced devastating flooding and loss of life during Hurricane Ida. Despite this, the local government has not taken necessary measures to protect and shelter its residents, according to a statement from NYC public advocate Jumaane D. Williams in December 2022.

These 10 cities are the most vulnerable to flooding in the United States

Here are the top 10 cities with the most flood risk due to their proximity to bodies of water, high precipitation rates, and inadequate infrastructure to manage floodwater. Knowing the flood risk level of these cities can help you take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your property.

10. Bronx, New York

  • Flood risk score: 43.7

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $289

  • Average home value: $365,000

River flooding is more common in the Bronx than coastal flooding due to its proximity to the Hudson, Harlem, and Bronx rivers. However, low-lying areas like Hunts Point are also at risk of coastal flooding. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 prompted changes in flood management strategies.

The borough has implemented various initiatives, such as the Green Infrastructure Plan, adding flood barriers, and improving stormwater drainage systems to mitigate the risk of flooding. Additionally, the Flood Hazard Mapper tool allows residents and city officials to assess the risk of flooding in flood-prone areas.

See Also: Find the right type of New York home insurance to protect your property.

9. Hollywood, Florida

  • Flood risk score: 46.1

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $954

  • Average home value: $421,884

Located between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Florida, is a coastal city with low elevation. Owing to its location, Hollywood has a FEMA coastal flooding risk score of 53.9, indicating a significant threat from storms and rising sea levels. The city sees extraordinary damage from hurricanes, costing the city millions of dollars. In 2017, the city suffered more than $3 million of damage from Hurricane Irma.

Most recently, Hollywood residents experienced historic flooding, with the National Weather Service reporting some areas seeing up to 18 inches of water. This type of flooding can cause significant damage to homes, and Hollywood homeowners should ensure they have the right amount of flood insurance to help mitigate costs.

8. Cape Coral, Florida

  • Flood risk score: 56.3

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $478

  • Average home value: $373,202

Cape Coral in southwest Florida, a boater’s paradise, offers more than 400 miles of canals and waterways. However, the unique features also put the city at a higher risk of flooding, particularly from heavy rainfall and storm surge.

Cape Coral has a coastal flood score of 47.2 and a river flood risk of 49.6, according to FEMA, indicating a moderate risk of both types of flooding. When weighted against the risk for other cities in this study, Cape Coral has an overall flood risk score of 56.3. Just last year, Hurricane Ian caused flooding and power outages, affecting homes and businesses all over Cape Coral.

More than 84% of all properties in Cape Coral are at risk of a severe flood-related event in the next 30 years. Homeowners in Cape Coral should heed this risk and take appropriate steps to protect themselves against damages.

Florida has the highest home insurance rates in the country, according to Insurify’s latest home insurance report. Check out our guide to buying home insurance in the Sunshine State to protect your investment at an affordable cost.

7. Jersey City, New Jersey

  • Flood risk score: 56.6

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $172

  • Average home value: $539,353

Jersey City faces a significant threat of coastal flooding, with low-lying areas, like Paulus Hook and Newport, vulnerable during storms and high tides.

Flash floods are a particular problem in Jersey City, where a combination of several hurricanes and storms brought severe rainfall and consequent flooding to the city in 2021. Hurricane Ida in particular caused intense damage, despite losing its hurricane status before moving to the Northeast.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed the construction of breakwaters and seawalls for better flood protection in 2022. A storm surge modeling tool is also available to help residents prepare for potential flood events.

6. Houston, Texas

  • Flood risk score: 68.5

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $292

  • Average home value: $258,055

Houston, Texas, experiences frequent and severe flooding from rainfall, with Harris County experiencing four to five days of flooding every year and a major flood every two years. While the area isn’t at high risk of coastal flooding, the numerous rivers running through the city increase the threat of river flooding.

Recent storms brought significant floods, including Tropical Storms Beta (2020) and Imelda (2019). Hurricane Harvey devastated the Houston area in 2017, causing widespread destruction and many deaths. As a result, the city has built dams and updated building codes to ensure new construction is flood-resistant.

5. Pasadena, Texas

  • Flood risk score: 70.6

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $288

  • Average home value: $209,663

Pasadena, Texas, located near the San Jacinto River, faces the highest river flood risk score in the nation. Flooded roadways are common for Pasadena residents, but the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in 2017 left virtually every street underwater at some point, underscoring the city’s vulnerability to flooding.

The city of Pasadena is taking proactive measures to mitigate future flood damage, including a 2022 proposal for a flood mitigation project to improve drainage and protect local infrastructure.

4. Brownsville, Texas

  • Flood risk score: 71.1

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $158

  • Average home value: $152,195

Brownsville, Texas, located on the Gulf of Mexico, is vulnerable to both river and coastal flooding. Fortunately, the city has resacas, which are channels that help control and direct floodwater during hurricanes. These resacas helped protect the city during 2008’s Hurricane Dolly.

However, flood-related events inflict severe damage to the city’s drainage system, often causing extensive damage to homes and other infrastructure. To improve flood predicting and protect its residents and infrastructure, Brownsville is updating flood maps to better plan for potential flood risks.

3. Brooklyn, New York

  • Flood risk score: 72.4

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $323

  • Average home value: $749,000

A bustling borough of New York City, Brooklyn has a high risk of coastal flooding, as well as the potential for river flooding from the East River and Newtown Creek. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Ida in 2021 caused significant damage to homes and businesses throughout the area.

City agencies in Brooklyn are working together to address the ongoing threat of flooding by creating a framework for more robust and flood-resistant communities to safeguard the well-being of locals.

2. Hialeah, Florida

  • Flood risk score: 95.3

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $994

  • Average home value: $408,937

Coastal and river flooding pose a significant threat to Hialeah, situated in the low-lying area of Miami-Dade County. Tropical storms, hurricanes, and heavy rain events increase the risk. With nowhere for stormwater to drain, flooding is an all-too-common occurrence.

In 2017, Hurricane Irma caused devastating flooding in Hialeah, with water surging up to 6 feet into some neighborhoods. The city requires elevation certificates for new buildings and collaborates with FEMA’s Flood Mitigation Assistance Program to mitigate future flood risks.

1. Miami, Florida

  • Flood risk score: 100.0

  • Average monthly home insurance premium: $914

  • Average home value: $532,420

Miami’s stunning beaches and diverse culture are under constant threat of flooding from hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rainfall. The effects of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in 2017, along with Hurricanes Charley in 2004 and Andrew in 1992, are somber reminders of the city’s susceptibility to floods.

As the most flood-prone city in the U.S., Miami has taken significant steps to combat the effects of floods. From installing water pumps to elevating roads and sidewalks, the city has gone to great lengths to keep its residents and infrastructure safe from rising waters.

Protecting your home and family from flood damage

The list of cities with the highest flood risk in the U.S. reminds us of the importance of taking flooding seriously. Coastal flooding, river flooding, and heavy rainfall continue to wreak havoc on cities and their infrastructure, and areas with both coastal and river flood risks are particularly vulnerable.

To reduce damage, cities with the most flood risk can invest in flood mitigation measures, such as seawalls, flood barriers, improved drainage systems, and zoning regulations. Additionally, creating green spaces and implementing early warning systems and emergency response plans can minimize the impact of flood events.

While the cities featured on Insurify’s list have the highest risk, the threat of flooding extends far beyond these areas. Homeowners can also take several steps to protect their homes from the effects of flooding, such as:

  • Elevate homes above flood level.

  • Install sump pumps and backflow valves to prevent water from entering the basement.

  • Clear gutters and downspouts of debris to let water flow away from the home.

  • Improve drainage around the home by installing rain gardens or permeable pavers.

  • Store important documents and valuables in waterproof containers.

  • Prepare a flood emergency kit, including water, food, and first aid supplies.

  • Purchase flood insurance to help cover the cost of flood damage.

No matter where you live, it’s crucial to understand the devastating effects of flooding and be aware of the flood risk in your city. By staying informed about weather patterns and flood warnings, you can take proactive measures to minimize flood damage and protect your home and family from harm.

Methodology

To identify the cities with the greatest flood risks in the U.S., the data science team at Insurify turned to the FEMA National Risk Index (NRI), a metric that measures a community’s risk to natural hazards by evaluating its expected annual losses from natural hazards as well as its social resilience to those hazards. Insurify’s data scientists aggregated the coastal flooding and riverine flooding risk scores for each city in the U.S. with a population greater than 100,000. They identified the cities with the highest combined scores as the most vulnerable to flooding in 2023.

Home insurance premiums come from Insurify’s database of real-time quotes from partner insurance companies. Average home values come from Zillow’s real estate database, and population data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 population estimates.

Amy Beardsley
Amy BeardsleyInsurance Writer

Amy is a personal finance and technology writer. With a background in the legal field and a bachelor's degree from Ferris State University, she has a talent for transforming complex topics into content that’s easy to understand. Connect with Amy on LinkedIn.

Tanveen Vohra
Edited byTanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
Tanveen Vohra
Tanveen VohraManager of Content and Communications
  • Property and casualty insurance specialist

  • 4+ years creating insurance content

Tanveen manages Insurify's data insights, annual home and auto insurance reports, and media communications. She’s regularly featured in media interviews on insurance topics.

Featured in

media logomedia logomedia logomedia logo