How to Prepare if You Live or Work in a Floodplain

Information
Graphic says: Be prepared and stay safe. Graphic shows clipboard with completed checklist and two circles showing not to walk or drive through floodwaters.
Low-lying areas by creeks and rivers are called floodplains and have a higher chance of flooding. Do you live or work in a floodplain? Find out about your flood risk and ways to protect yourself and your property.
On this page

Do You Live or Own Property in a Floodplain?

To find out if you live in or own property in or near a floodplain, you can: 

  • Search online at PortlandMaps.com
    1. Type in an address and click the "search" button.
    2. Click the "Public Safety" tab below your property description.
    3. Scroll down to the "Hazard" section to see if your property is in or near a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
  • Call 503-823-6892
  • Visit City of Portland Development Services Center, 1st Floor, 1900 SW 4th Avenue

City staff can help you find:

  • If a property is located within a 100-year floodplain or Special Flood Hazard (SFHA) Area. If you are in this zone and have a mortgage through an FDIC-backed lender, you must purchase flood insurance.
  • Flood insurance rating information such as Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) zone, panel number, suffix, panel date, index date and regulatory base flood elevation.
  • If a FEMA elevation certificate is available. Most elevation certificates on file with the City are available for download from this Portland’s Elevation and Flood Hazard Map.

Protect Your Property with Flood Insurance

Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage to your house or belongings. If you live or work in a 100-year floodplain, there is a 1% chance or greater of flooding in any given year. Flooding outside the 100-year floodplain is less likely but can still occur.

Portland participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance is available through most local insurance agents. When asking about flood coverage, check to see if you have sewer backup insurance. Find out more about flood insurance at floodsmart.gov.

Get a 25 Percent Flood Insurance Discount

Property owners in Portland’s 100-year floodplain automatically save 25% on flood insurance premiums. That’s because the City participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Community Rating System (CRS). This federal program rewards communities that take steps to reduce the risk of flooding.

This discount is possible because Portland has earned a Class 5 rating in the CRS program, which puts us in the top 15 percent of participating communities. Portland's rating is based on:

  • Our commitment to restore the natural functions of floodplains.
  • Our comprehensive approach to stormwater management.
  • Updated floodplain codes.
  • Environmental zoning.
  • Available public information.
  • The amount of the City's floodplain designated as parks and open space.

Protect Your Property 

There are steps you can take to protect your belongings and property from flood damage. Here are some options:

  • Elevate your belongings and mechanical systems above the expected flood level.
  • Remove items from your basement and don’t use it for living or workspace.
  • Install sewer back flow prevention.
  • Elevate your home.

City staff are available to discuss flood hazards and retrofit options. Call 503-823-6892.

Visit floodsmart.gov/community for more information on how to prepare for flooding.

Construction in a Floodplain

If you build in a floodplain, you are required to protect your property as well as your neighbor's property. Always call the City of Portland at503-823-6892 before you build, alter, regrade, or add fill on your property. Also call if you see building or fill being added without a City permit sign posted. A permit is required to ensure that projects meet city, state and federal requirements and do not cause problems on other properties.  

New buildings in the floodplain must be protected from flood damage. Portland’s building code requires that new residential buildings must be at least two feet above the base, or 100-year, flood level. The exception is in the Columbia River floodplain where the requirement is one foot above base flood elevation. No new construction or filling is allowed in the floodway unless it can be demonstrated through hydrologic analysis that it will not increase the base flood elevation. 

Review Portland City Code regulating construction in floodplains.

Outside the Floodplain 

Even if your property is outside the 100-year floodplain, you could experience flooding or drainage issues.

For example, some areas in SW Portland are hilly and the soils are too dense to allow rain to soak in easily. So, water can flood downhill properties. In most cases, this type of flooding is caused by unmanaged stormwater and can also damage property or create safety issues. 

What You Can Do