Flooding in the Connecticut Metropolitan Region is a well-documented natural hazard that threatens residents, businesses and stakeholders throughout the Region. This website was developed to provide detailed information about flooding and flood protection. Please contact your municipality for more detailed information about flood risks in your community.
Know Your Flood Hazard
Not all floods are alike. Some floods develop slowly, while others such a flash floods, can develop in just a few minutes and without visible signs of rain. Floods can be local, impacting a neighborhood or community, or very large, affecting entire river basins and multiple states. Be aware of flood hazards no matter where you live or work, but especially if you are in low-lying areas, near water, behind a levee or downstream from a dam. Even very small streams, gullies, creeks, culverts, dry streambeds or low-lying ground that appear harmless in dry weather can flood. (from ready.gov/floods)
Inland flooding is a well-documented natural hazard that threatens many areas and neighborhoods throughout the Greater Bridgeport Region. It is one of the most commonly occurring natural hazards and has the potential to damage property and disrupt the quality of life for many. Inland flooding affects the Region with moderate to frequent regularity, and with varying degrees of intensity, dependent on season, setting, and weather patterns. Coastal flooding threatens the Greater Bridgeport communities of Bridgeport, Fairfield and Stratford. Much like inland flooding, coastal flooding represents a common naturally occurring event that causes damage to property and quality of life.
Familiarize yourself with these terms to identify a flood hazard:
- Flood Watch – Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
- Flash Flood Watch – Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
- Flood Warning – Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Flash Flood Warning – A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
Flood Zones & Coastal Zones – explanation, from http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/defining_flood_risks.jsp
- High Risk Areas (Special Flood Hazard Area or SFHA): In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. All home and business owners in these areas with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders are required to buy flood insurance.They are shown on the flood maps as zones labeled with the letters A or V.
- AE, A, AH, AR, A99 or AO Zone. These properties have a one percent chance of flooding in any year and are more than twice as likely to be damaged by a flood as by fire.
- VE or V Zone. These properties have a one percent chance of flooding in any year and also face hazards associated with coastal storm waves.
- Moderate to Low Risk Areas (non-Special Flood Hazard Area or NSFA): In moderate-to-low risk areas, the risk of being flooded is reduced but not completely removed. These areas submit over 20% of NFIP claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding. Flood insurance isn’t federally required in moderate-to-low areas, but it is recommended for all property owners and renters. They are shown on flood maps as zones labeled with the letters B, C or X (or a shaded X).
- Shaded X Zone. These properties are in moderate-to-low risk areas. The risk is reduced in these areas not removed.
- X Zone. These properties are in an area of overall lower risk.
- Undetermined Risk Areas: No flood-hazard analysis has been conducted in these areas, but a flood risk still exists. Flood insurance rates reflect the uncertainty of the flood risk. These areas are labeled with the letter D on the flood maps.
FEMA National Flood Insurance Program
Bridgeport Tide Station
Town of Fairfield’s Planning & Zoning Department
Town of Trumbull’s Engineering Department
Internal links to Fairfield’s Stratford’s & Trumbull’s webviewers
Flood Insurance + Build Responsibly
Insure your property for your flood hazard: Flood insurance provides coverage that most homeowner’s policies don’t – coverage for damage to buildings and contents from flooding, flood-related erosion, and flood-caused mudslides.
In order to help alleviate the financial devastation caused by flooding, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) in 1968. The NFIP, overseen by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), enables homeowners, business owners, and renters in participating communities to purchase federally backed flood insurance. This insurance is designed to provide an alternative to disaster assistance to meet the escalating costs of repairing flood damage to buildings and their contents.
You must have flood insurance to receive federally secured financing to buy, construct, or improve a building in a high-risk area known as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), where more than 75 percent of all flood claims are paid.
For more information about flood hazards and insuring your property from flood hazards, visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/ and https://www.floodsmart.gov/flood-insurance-cost
Build Responsibly: Before you build, consult your Building Department to determine the mandatory elevations for your home or building.
Homebuilder’s Guide to Coastal Construction: FEMA produced this series of 37 fact sheets to provide technical guidance and recommendations concerning the construction of coastal residential buildings. Visit https://www.fema.gov/home-builders-guide-coastal-construction-technical-fact-sheet-series-fema-p-499
What is Base Flood Elevation? The elevation shown on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for high-risk flood zones (“A” and “V” zones) indicates the water surface elevation resulting from a flood that has a 1 percent chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year.
If your home or business was damaged or destroyed by a flood, you face major decisions about your property. Do you repair? Do you rebuild? Do you relocate? The decisions you make now can help provide a safer, stronger future for you and your family. If you decide to repair or rebuild, here are some points to consider:
- The risk you faced yesterday might not be the same risk you face today or in the future.
- By rebuilding higher, you can reduce — or perhaps avoid — future flood loss and reduce the impact on your finances.
- The financial consequences of not having flood insurance coverage could be devastating if another flood occurs.
Links to Town’s Building Departments
Build Back Safer & Stronger (English)
Reconstruya de Manera más Segura y Resistente
Protect Yourself + Your Family
Before a flood
Educate Yourself: After getting flood insurance, there are several things you can do to minimize losses in your home and ensure your family’s safety.
Protect yourself & other people: The person most responsible for your safety and well-being is YOU!
- Build an emergency kit and make a family communications plan. Learn more at http://www.ready.gov/floods and link to “all hazards page”
- Make considerations for and customize plans for individual needs and responsibilities based on the methods of communication, types of shelter and methods of transportation available.
- Develop a family emergency plan.
- Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
For more information on emergency preparation, talk to your insurance agent or visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/flood/first-prepare-for-flooding
During a flood
If a flood is likely in your area, you should:
- Listen to the radio or television for information.
- Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
- Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly.
Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
- If you have to prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:
- Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
- Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.
If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:
- Do not attempt to walk across flowing streams or drive through flooded roadways:
Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly (from http://www.ready.gov/floods).
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- A foot of water will float many vehicles
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
- Do not attempt to drive through a flooded road. The depth of water is not always obvious. The road bed may be washed out under the water, and you could be stranded or trapped.
- Do not drive around a barricade. Barricades are there for your protection. Turn around and go the other way.
- Do not try to take short cuts. They may be blocked. Stick to designated evacuation routes.
- Be especially cautious driving at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.
- If you’ve come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.
After a flood: Your home has been flooded. Although floodwaters may be down in some areas, many dangers still exist. Here are some things to remember in the days ahead:
- Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice as soon as available.
- Avoid moving water.
- Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organization.
- Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
- Play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can occur. Listen for local warnings and information. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, go another way.
If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded:
- Stay on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide animals and broken bottles, and it’s also slippery. Avoid walking or driving through it.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
- Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
- Check for structural damage before re-entering your home to avoid being trapped in a building collapse.
Staying Healthy: A flood can cause physical hazards and emotional stress. You need to look after yourself and your family as you focus on cleanup and repair.
- Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible.
Damaged sewer systems are serious health hazards.
- Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.
- Wear gloves and boots to clean and disinfect. Wet items should be cleaned with a pine-oil cleanser and bleach, completely dried, and monitored for several days for any fungal growth and odors.
- Boil water for drinking and food preparation until authorities tell you that your water supply is safe.
- Rest often and eat well.
- Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do jobs one at a time.
- Discuss your concerns with others and seek help. Contact Red Cross for information on emotional support available in your area.
For more information, visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/start
Protect your property from flooding
Before a flood
Safeguard your possessions. Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:
- A copy of your insurance policies with your agents contact information.
- A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.
- Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
Prepare your house:
- Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
- Make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
- Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
- Anchor any fuel tanks.
- Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
- Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
- Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
- Consider installing “check valves” to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
- If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds.
After a flood
Cleaning Up and Repairing Your Home:
- Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box, even if the power is off in your community. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.
- Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety.
- Prevent mold by removing wet contents immediately.
- The Red Cross can provide you with a cleanup kit: mop, broom, bucket, and cleaning supplies.
- Contact your insurance agent to discuss claims.
- Listen to your radio for information on assistance that may be provided by the state or federal government or other organizations.
- If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home.
- Take photos of any floodwater in your home and save any damaged personal property.
- Make a list of damaged or lost items and include their purchase date and value with receipts, and place with the inventory you took prior to the flood. Some damaged items may require disposal, so keep photographs of these items.
Get a copy of the book “Repairing Your Flooded Home” which is available free from the American Red Cross or your state or local emergency manager https://irp-cdn.multiscreensite.com/562d25c6/files/uploaded/KNCNvPqUQsCeOBhzsecR_FEMA_Repairing_Your_Flooded_Home_August_1992.pdf . It will tell you:
- How to enter your home safely.
- How to protect your home and belongings from further damage.
- How to record damage to support insurance claims and requests for assistance.
- How to check for gas or water leaks and how to have service restored.
- How to clean up appliances, furniture, floors and other belongs.
For more information, visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/flood
Protect natural floodplain functions
What is a floodplain? Floods are natural and floodplains are necessary to every river and coastal system. Floodplains, typically defined as any land susceptible to being inundated by flood waters, can also be regarded as the land needed by a river or stream to convey and store flood waters.
Preserving the floodplain as open space allows it to serve these primary natural functions and many other important functions. Keeping the floodplain free of development – free of buildings and infrastructure – means no flood insurance claims, no closed businesses, no homeless residents and that the community can return to normal quickly.
The value of wetlands. Wetlands function as natural sponges that trap and slowly release surface water, rain, snowmelt, groundwater and flood waters. Trees, root mats, and other wetland vegetation also slow the speed of flood waters and distribute them more slowly over the floodplain. This combined water storage and braking action lowers flood heights and reduces erosion. Wetlands within and downstream of urban areas are particularly valuable, counteracting the greatly increased rate and volume of surface water runoff from pavement and buildings. The holding capacity of wetlands helps control floods and prevents water logging of crops. Preserving and restoring wetlands, together with other water retention, can often provide the level of flood control otherwise provided by expensive dredge operations and levees.
For more information, visit “Flood Protection” http://water.epa.gov/type/wetlands/flood.cfm