Michigan is surrounded by the Great Lakes, which makes it a wonderful place to live. However, snowmelt and heavy rain can swell rivers bringing significant flooding to many communities and homes.
In this article, we highlight the top cities at risk of flooding and offer advice on insurance coverage and what you can do now to protect your home.
Top Michigan Cities at Risk of Flooding
The 2020 First National Flood Risk Assessment (FNFRA) estimated that 315,600 properties are at substantial risk of flooding in Michigan. This is considerably above the FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps that identify 124,100 properties at risk. The FNFRA assessment takes into account areas that FEMA hasn’t yet mapped, adds precipitation as a separate risk, and includes current climate data.
The FNFRA study also identifies 531,800 properties at risk over the next 30 years. This includes 51,700 properties with a 99% chance of flooding at least once during that time.
Top 10 Michigan Cities at Risk of Flooding
Here are the top 10 cities in Michigan from the First National Flood Risk Assessment showing total properties at risk followed by the percentage of total properties.
Our Hometowns’ Flooding Risks
We’ve dug slightly deeper into the assessment for the locations in Michigan where we have offices.
Grand Rapids ranks third on the top 10 cities listing. Looking at Kent County, the FNFRA assessment identifies 18,112 properties at risk. This is a 654% difference from the FEMA assessment of 2,403 properties at risk.
Livonia is in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, first on the list above, and Dearborn, seventh on the list, and many other cities. Properties in the county total 818,943 with 46,609 of those at risk of flooding, according to the FNFRA assessment. On the other hand, FEMA estimates that 17,947 are at risk.
Traverse City is in Grand Traverse County. FEMA has identified 647 properties at risk of flooding in the county. FNFRA has identified 4,531. That’s an amazing 600% higher.
These are good examples of reviewing your own property to determine the estimated flooding risk. At that point, you can accurately determine your insurance needs.
If your property is at risk of flooding, it’s best to purchase separate flood insurance. Your homeowner’s insurance only covers damage from internal sources of water such as overflowing toilets and leaking or burst pipes. It doesn’t cover damage from external sources caused by rain, storms, or flooding.
The National Flood Insurance Program can be accessed at the FEMA Flood Map Service Center where you map your property to determine flooding risks. From there you can purchase flood insurance.
Flood insurance can be well worth the money in Michigan. Since 2000, there have been 238,900 flood damage claims through FEMA. The highest number of claims have been from Genesee, Macomb, Midland, Oakland, and Wayne counties.
Flooding Protection for Your Property
It’s estimated by FEMA that just one inch of water in a 5,000-square-foot multi-story home can cause $47,110 in damage to the home, along with $6,344 in damage to personal property.
Safely Store Valuables. Use waterproof containers to store your valuables. Whenever possible, store them on an upper floor well away from any expected floodwaters.
Direct Water Away from Your Home. That starts with making sure your gutters and downspouts are clear. Also, your landscape grading should slope away from the foundation. Use downspout extensions to help move the water away.
Use Flood-Resistant Drywall and Insulation. This helps reduce the damage from flooding. It also allows easier clean-up. Another help can be installing floor tile rather than carpeting in areas of your home prone to flooding.
Install an Internal Drainage System. A drainage system in your basement or crawl space can collect leaks and remove the water with a sump pump.
Add Flood Sensors. Home security systems offer flood sensors that can detect rising water and alert you to take immediate action.
Install Flood Vents. These vents allow water into the basement or crawl space to reduce the pressure on foundation walls. This causes some flooding damage but can prevent far greater structural damage.
Prevent Sewage Backup. Sewage drain lines can back up due to floodwaters. Install backflow valves to prevent this from happening and contaminating your basement or crawl space.
Elevate Utilities. When floods are possible, move electrical equipment and any extension cords off the basement floor. As a longer-term project, consider rerouting electrical wiring and placing outlets well above the possible flooding level.
During any flooding, make sure you protect your family. Move to a higher floor or evacuate the premises if you’re in immediate danger from rising waters.
Preparing Your Home
Going through the list above is critical to preparing your home for flooding. We also recommend that you consult the professionals at FSM 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.