Back to Floodplain Management
Duval County is home to coastal, inland, and river flooding. The most common flooding in the City occurs during the rainy season from June to November. Low lying areas are subject to flooding from rising water. Areas of the County have experienced flooding from tributaries and creeks of the St. Johns River. The most severe of these events occur during hurricanes and tropical storms when houses are damaged from rising water. Flood waters are dangerous, even though they appear to move slowly. A flood two feet deep moving as slow as tree feet per second can knock a man off his feet and float a car.
View realtime stage information on the St. Johns River
Your property may be high enough that it has not flooded recently. However, it can still be flooded in the future because the next flood could be worse. If you are in the floodplain, the odds are that someday your property will be damaged. This web page gives you some ideas of what you can do to protect yourself
City Flood Services
The first thing you should do is to check your flood hazard. Flood maps and flood protection references are available at the Jacksonville Public Library. You can also visit the Development Services Section in room 2100 of the Edward Ball Building to see if you are in a mapped floodplain. If so, they can give you more information such as estimated depths of flooding, past flood problems in the area, and copies of Elevation Certificates on buildings built in the floodplain since 1992. Even if you are not in a floodplain, there still may be some risk of flooding.
If you have had a flood or sewer (storm or sanitary) backup problem, check out sources of assistance at 630-CITY.
Find Your Flood Zone
For official flood zone determinations or copies of available Elevation Certificates, you can contact:
Development Services Division
214 N. Hogan St., Second Floor
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Phone: (904) 255-8310
Fax: (904) 255-8311
Do not walk through flowing water.
Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths, mostly during sudden floods. Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. If you have to walk in standing water, use a pole or stick to ensure that the ground is still there.
Do not drive through a flooded area.
More people drown in their cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
Stay away from power and electrical wires.
The number two flood killer after drowning is electrocution. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to JEA or the Emergency Operations Center.
Have your electricity turned off by JEA.
Some appliances, such as televisions sets, keep electrical charges even after they have been unplugged. Don't use appliances or motors that have gotten wet unless they have been taken apart, cleaned, and dried.
Look out for animals, especially snakes.
Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours. Use a pole or stick to poke and turn things over and scare away small animals.
Look before you step.
After a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris including broken bottles and nails. Floors and stairs that have been covered with mud can be slippery.
Be alert for gas leaks.
Use a flashlight to inspect for damage. Don't smoke or use candles, lanterns, or open flames unless you know the gas has been turned off and the area has been ventilated.
If you don't have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. Homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. However, because Jacksonville participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy. This insurance is backed by the Federal Government and is available to everyone, even for properties that have been flooded.
Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank when they got a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies cover the building's structure but not its contents. During the type of flooding that may happen in Jacksonville, there is usually more damage to the furniture and contents than there is to the structure.
If you have a flood insurance policy in Jacksonville, double check that the building coverage is adequate and make sure you have contents coverage. Flood insurance covers all surface floods. Remember, even if the last flooding conditions missed you or you have done some flood-proofing, the next flooding could be worse.
Don't wait for the next flood to buy insurance protection. There is a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance Program coverage takes effect. Contact your insurance agent for more information on rates and coverage.
Property Protection Measures
Every year flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other natural disaster. While recent construction practices and regulations have made new homes less prone to flooding, many existing structures remain susceptible. Throughout the County there is a growing interest from property owners to develop practical and cost effective methods for reducing or eliminating exposures to flooding. Several effective ways include acquisition and relocation of a building to a site not subject to flooding; construction of a levee, reservoir or dam to keep water away from the property; or retrofitting. Retrofitting is a different approach from other ways because the property itself remains subject to flooding when the building is modified to prevent or minimize flooding of habitable space.
There are several approaches to retrofitting: elevation, wet flood-proofing, dry flood-proofing, relocation, levees and floodwalls, and demolition.
In the event of pending flood threats it is always advisable to take the following emergency actions:
- Sand-bag to reduce erosion and scouring
- Elevate furniture above flood protection levels
- Seal off sewer lines in the dwelling to prevent the backflow of sewer waters
Natural and Beneficial Function
Wetland areas and buffers adjacent to streams help reduce flood damage. The flood waters in a natural floodplain are allowed to spread over a large area. This reduces flood velocities and provides flood storage to reduce peak flows downstream. Natural floodplains not only reduce peak flows downstream, but its vegetation stabilizes soils during flooding, reduces erosion upstream and sedimentation downstream, and acts as a filter to improve water quality. It is everyone's job to help preserve natural areas in the floodplain. This can be done by avoiding construction in the floodplain and providing as large a buffer as possible next to the floodplain.
Flood Warning System
The most serious threat of general flooding is during the hurricane season (June through November). Residents should tune to TV and radio weather broadcasts and stay alert to special advisories.
These local radio and TV stations will broadcast warnings and information for our area:
AM/ FM Radio
NOAA weather radio frequencies (MHz), 24 hours a day
162.400, 162.425, 162.450, 162.475, 162.500, 162.525, 162.550
All properties located within the Special Floodplain Hazard Area designated on the community's Flood Insurance Rate Map are subject to state and local regulations. Before undertaking development, a builder must secure the necessary permits from the Building Inspection Division on the second floor of the Edward Ball Building. Development activities include reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other activities.
- Always check with the Building Inspection Division before you build, alter, re-grade, or fill on your property. A permit may be needed to ensure that projects do not cause problems on other properties.
- If you see building or filling without a City permit posted, contact the City at 630-CITY.
- Check out information on flood-proofing, flood insurance, and flood safety.
It is also required that all substantial improvements to a building be treated as a new building. A substantial improvement is when the value of an addition, alteration, repair or reconstruction project exceeds 50% of the value of the existing building. In the case of an addition, only the addition must be protected. In the case of an improvement to the original building, the entire building must be protected according to NFIP standards.
Do not dump or throw anything into the ditches or streams. When this happens, flooding occurs more frequently and reaches a higher elevation, subjecting properties otherwise protected to unnecessary risk of damage. If you see dumping or debris in the ditches or streams, contact the City of Jacksonville at 630-CITY.
Keep everything out of storm drains except for the rainwater runoff that they are designed to collect.
Do not put anything down a storm drain that you would not want to drink or swim in!