Unfortunately, flooding happens in Maryland due to major storms as well as prolonged rainfall that simply overwhelms the drainage systems.
Hurricane Isabel affected more than 35,000 properties in Maryland when it hit in 2003. This was followed by Hurricane Irene in 2011, with nearly 12,000 properties flooded. More typical is flooding around small streams after heavy rainfall or flooding along the Potomac and Susquehanna rivers during prolonged heavy rain.
Maryland Cities and Towns at Risk of Flooding
The First National Flood Risk Assessment in 2020 provided a state-by-state review of flooding risks. For Maryland, it found 133,700 properties at substantial risk. This is more than 75,000 above the current Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data.
This latest study takes into account current climate data, adds precipitation as a separate risk, and includes areas that FEMA hasn’t yet mapped. The report goes on to note an expected increase of 15% or a total of 153,500 properties by 2050.
Here’s what was found in 2020 for Maryland cities and towns, ranked by the greatest number of properties at risk. This information is followed by the percentage of total properties in that location.
1. Baltimore 13,705 properties – 6% of total properties
2. Ocean City 6,319 – 85%
3. Ocean Pines 4,148 – 43%
4. Dundalk 2,123 – 8%
5. West Ocean City 2,020 – 57%
6. Cumberland 1,848 – 18%
7. Crisfield 1,749 – 83%
8. Salisbury 1,742 – 15%
9. Bethesda 1,525 – 9%
10. Hagerstown 1,400 – 10%
Of course, Baltimore ranks at the top, with more than twice as many properties at risk, yet with only 6% of total properties at risk of flooding.
Maryland Flooding Protection
We’re fortunate with the extensive protection measures in place around the state. This includes retention ponds and levees that protect 137,000 and 5,000 properties respectively. On the Atlantic coast, dunes and seawalls protect nearly 1,400 properties. All of this helps to mitigate flooding risk.
Protect Your Own Property from Flooding
Home flooding is a disaster by any measure. But even small amounts of water can lead to major property damage and repair costs. FEMA estimates that just one inch of water in an average 2,500-square-foot home can cause more than $25,000 in damage to the building and personal property.
You can use the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to map your own property to determine flooding risks. This can also help you access the National Flood Insurance Program. Flooding is not typically covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy. You’ll need a separate policy for that type of coverage.
Preparation and Prevention
There’s a lot you can do to prepare your home for a flood. Of course, if you’re facing rising waters and in immediate danger, it’s best to take what you can and evacuate your family at once. Floods are extremely dangerous to property and life.
- Maintain Your Gutters and Exterior Drainage. Your roof collects quite a bit of rainwater and channels it into the gutters and downspouts. That water must be routed away from the foundation through extensions and landscaping that slopes away from your home. Make sure your gutters and downspouts have adequate capacity and that the water flows well away from the property.
- Install Interior Drainage. Install an interior drainage system in your basement or crawl space including a sump pump with battery backup for when power fails. This can be very effective in moving water out of your basement or crawl space before it builds up.
- Make Sure Backflow Valves are Installed on Drains. Installing backflow valves on sewer or septic system lines can prevent raw sewage from backing up into your home. This can happen during flooding when the water has nowhere else to go.
- Install a Flood Vent. This device actually allows water into your basement or crawl space, preventing the buildup of hydrostatic pressure that can cause the walls to collapse.
- Invest in Smart Water Sensors. These sensors can be installed in your basement or crawl space and the lower levels of your home. They can then notify you via a smartphone app that flooding is starting so that you can take immediate action and alert family members.
- Elevate Utilities. Once flooding has started it can quickly submerge your basement. Immediately prior to flooding, you can move extension cords and equipment off the floor, placing the equipment on cement blocks to allow at least some clearance above water. Well in advance, you can also rewire your basement to move outlets, etc., well away from the floor.
- Elevate Possessions. If you have a basement office, it’s best to move your paperwork and other valuable items to a higher floor. Don’t let the water damage or destroy them.
While we’re concerned about flooding damage to our property and possessions, it can also be a very serious threat to our lives. Do all you can to prepare for flooding well in advance, but when it arrives, the key is to survive.
We recommend reviewing the Before, During, and After Flooding checklist from the Susquehanna Flood Forecast and Warning System for ideas on how best to prepare and respond to serious flooding.
We also recommend that you consult the professionals at JES Foundation Repair for a free inspection and repair estimate to identify any issues with your basement or crawl space that need attention in preparation for heavy rains and flooding.