Check your Portland Home’s Flood Risk

portland flood risk

With floods happening across the United States this winter and spring, many home owners – and home buyers – want to know, what is the risk where we live? Is your Portland home a flood risk?

Thankfully, the City of Portland makes information readily available through online maps.
There are two ways to check on your flood risk.

Head to and enter in your address, or the address of the Portland home you are interested in. In the panel on the right side, scroll down to “Public Safety” and click on it to pull down the information. Below the crime data you’ll find a “Hazard” section. There, it will tell you whether the property is in a FEMA Special Flood Hazard Area, and whether it was inundated in the 1996 flood we had in Portland.

If you’d rather check out the entire neighborhood, go to, and find the Flood Hazard map there. It will have two layers activated, again for the FEMA SFHA, and the 1996 flood inundation area.

At first glance, both of these layers don’t seem to impact much of Portland. There’s really not much of a flood risk for most of the land area in the city. However, if you zoom in on those blue areas, you’ll see that when we do flood, some parts of the city will be affected in a major way. Down near Tualatin, the floods even cover the I5, our major interstate connecting Portland with points south and north!

Should Portland homeowners have flood insurance? I’ll let you decide, but while the likelihood of flood damage is higher in the Special Flood Hazard Area zone (also known as the 100-year floodplain), according to the City of Portland, 60% of flood insurance claims are for areas outside of this zone. That’s because of the nature of floods — they don’t just happen when existing rivers and creeks overflow. Prolonged rain, which we’re famous for here in Portland, and even snowmelt can create a volume of water that is too much for streets and storm drains to handle. These areas can become rivers themselves! The result is localized flooding, filling basements with water and occasionally causing foundational damage.

If you’re thinking, “I have homeowners insurance, I’m covered,” think again. Homeowners insurance typically does not cover flooding. Luckily, there are many local Portland insurance companies that do. Sewer backup insurance is also another smart thing to consider, especially in an older home.

Real estate disclosure laws require home sellers to notify buyers if the home has previously been flooded (among many other items). However, buyers should do their own due diligence.

What about landslides? They can be a catastrophic result of heavy rainfall, even when flooding isn’t present. In Portland’s West Hills especially, landslides can pose a real threat to property value. Check out our Portland real estate blog post on landslides to learn more.

Read over insurance policies carefully, as they may not cover certain types of landslides. And, use a good, Portland-experienced real estate agent who can spot properties built on dangerous hillsides, and warn you before you even consider buying these homes!

February 27, 2017

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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