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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.