Protect Family and Property Against Flooding
The Department of Public Works urges property owners and residents to take precautions against potential flood hazards in Prince William County. There are 10 major watersheds in the County with floodplains in each of the watersheds.
Residents of flood hazard areas can take several steps to safeguard their families and property when flooding occurs. These actions are also advised for other residents traveling in the County during times of flooding.
Steps to Take During Flood Conditions
- Heed flood warnings.
- Do not walk through flowing water. It can knock you off your feet.
- Do not drive through a flooded area. The road or bridge may be washed out. If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
- If possible, cut off electricity, water, and gas supply. Stay away from power lines and gas leaks. Electrical current can travel through water and lead to electrocution.
- Be wary of animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their homes may seek shelter in yours.
Steps to Take Before Flood Conditions Occur
1. Purchase flood insurance
Standard homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover a property for flood damage. If your property is located in a flood hazard area, you should purchase a separate insurance policy for flood damage. You may want to include your personal property in the insurance policy. The average flood insurance premium in 2004 was $458 a year. A maximum of $250,000 of building coverage is available for single-family residential buildings and $250,000 per unit for multi-family residences. The limit for content coverage on all residential buildings is $100,000, which is also available to renters. Commercial structures can be insured to a limit of $500,000 for the buildings and $500,000 for the contents.
Since Prince William County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), residents can obtain federally backed flood insurance. Premiums will depend on the amount of coverage and the degree of flood hazard. You may call NFIP at 800-427-4661 if you would like more information about flood insurance.
Also, the County participates in NFIP’s Community Rating System (CRS). The objective of the CRS is to reward those communities that are exceeding the minimum NFIP requirements in order to help their citizens prevent or reduce flood losses. The reward for Prince William County's efforts will be a discount for NFIP policies issued or renewed by homeowners.
Please call the County at 703-792-7070 to find out if you are located in a flood hazard area. You may also use County Mapper and click on the 100 Year Flood Plain Layer to determine if your property is within a flood plain. We use FEMA information to determine that layer.
2. Protect your property
Take steps in and around your home to safeguard against flooding. Elevate electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, and washer/dryers (or relocate to a location less likely to be flooded). Install sewer backup valves. Move furniture, TV, and other valuables to the upper floors of your home.
One way to keep water away is to regrade your lot, build a small floodwall or earthen berm, or sandbag. Another practical step is to raise the house above the flood levels. You may find more suggested ways to safeguard your property against floods at local libraries, or visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency website
Be sure to check with the Building Development Division of the Department of Public Works at 703-792-6924 and the Office of Planning at 703-792-6830 before you build, alter, regrade, or fill on your property. A permit may be needed.
3. Obtain all required permits
Before starting any development or construction project, including modifications to existing buildings and lots, you may need permits. Development within the floodplain requires permits. Check with the Office of Planning at 703-792-6830 and the Building Development Division of Public Works at 703-792-6924 to discuss requirements or to complete applications.
Please report anyone building or filling without a permit to the Building Development Division at 703-792-6924. This ensures work conforms with safety standards.
4. Be aware of requirements for substantial improvements
A substantial improvement is construction of an addition, alteration, repair of damage, or reconstruction project that is valued at 50% or more of the existing building. When building an addition in a flood hazard area, only the addition must be protected (adequately and safely flood proofed, elevated, etc.) if the cumulative construction costs are less than 50% of the existing building value. If the cumulative construction costs exceed the existing building value, then the entire building must be protected.
5. Be sure drainage systems are working
Maintenance of drainage systems is critical. Dumping of debris in ditches and streams can partially or completely obstruct the free flow of water. This can cause water to back up and overflow onto roads and yards. Dumping is a violation of Section 22.151 of the Prince William Code and Sections 62.1-194 and 194.1 of the Virginia Code.
If your property is next to a ditch or stream, please help us keep it clear of brush and debris. We are required to ensure the free flow of storm water to prevent erosion and flood hazards. Call the Environmental Services Division of Public Works at 703-792-7070 to report debris or blockage in a ditch or stream.
Please call the Environmental Services Division at 703-792-7070 to report clogged storm water drains on easements. The Virginia Department of Transportation takes care of storm drains in the street. You may call them at 703-366-1900.