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Flood Information

The City of Jamaica Beach is committed to providing its citizens with the knowledge and resources they can use to protect themselves and their property from flood hazards and storm surge. Education, preparedness, and prevention are valuable and proven tools that help communities become resistant to natural disasters. 

Regardless of where you live, you are at risk for flooding, and Jamaica Beach’s location on the Gulf Coast leaves it especially vulnerable to tropical storms and other flood-related events. The links below have been created to serve as an “all inclusive” source for property owners in Jamaica Beach in order to increase awareness about coastal issues and flood hazards.

Floodplains and Flood Maps

Floodplain Functions
Floodplains provide a wide range of benefits to human and natural systems. They serve as flood storage and conveyance, and reduce flood velocities and flood peaks. Water quality is improved through the soil and vegetation’s ability to filter out nutrients and impurities from runoff and process organic wastes. Floodplains and wetlands provide breeding and feeding grounds for fish and wildlife, create and enhance waterfowl habitat, and protect habitats for rare and endangered species. They provide open space, aesthetic pleasure, and areas for active uses such as parks, playgrounds, and ball fields. Jamaica Beach’s flood zones are AE and VE. All of the city limits are in a floodplain.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps
Flood Insurance Rate Maps are issued by FEMA to identify different levels of flood risks. The Flood Insurance Rate Maps are primarily used for flood insurance purposes, but they also provide a basis for Jamaica Beach to regulate development within those areas. The location of a property relative to certain flood zones indicates what restrictions may be placed on new and substantially improved construction. FEMA’s Flood Insurance and Flood Maps explains the different flood zones and how they relate to risk. The flood zones in Jamaica Beach are in the high velocity zone nearest to the beach, and the AE zone further landward.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps are available for viewing at the Jamaica Beach Building Department located at 5264 Jamaica Beach, or directly through FEMA's Map Service Center. The maps are used by the City for compliance purposes, and are also used by insurance agents for insurance rating. The most recent and currently effective maps for Jamaica Beach are dated December 6, 2002. For homes that were built prior to that date, it may be helpful for citizens to have access to all the maps to know what flood zone was in effect at the time of construction. Knowing this information can be critical if there is a dispute with a mortgage lender or insurance agent. The FEMA Map Service Center is a good resource for both current and historical maps.

FEMA and its contractors are in the process of updating the flood maps for Galveston County. The preliminary maps were released on September 27, 2012, but the final maps will not be issued for another year or so. If citizens are interested in seeing how the current 2002 maps compare to the preliminary maps, they can visit the Flood Information Portal at Citizens can follow FEMA’s progress on the mapping updates via the following site: More information on the changing flood maps is available in the FEMA document entitled Understanding the Changes to Your Community’s Flood Insurance Rate Map.

The Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) is gathering data for a high water mark inventory for the state. The public is encouraged to send their pictures, emails, and other information to the agency at this email: High water marks, or debris lines, can establish a basis for understanding typical flooding events, and can help experts estimate the kind of damage future hurricanes and floods may bring.

Building in the Floodplain

All development in the Jamaica Beach floodplain requires a permit per  the Jamaica Beach Code of Ordinances.  Development includes, but is not limited to, all new construction, filling, grading, and paving. Substantially damaged or improved structures, where the cost of repair (regardless of the cause of damage) or improvements to a structure equals or exceeds 50% of the building’s market value, also require building permits and elevation certificates, and are held to the same standards as new construction.

Communities participating in the National Flood Insurance Program must regulate to minimum standards in order to provide subsidized flood insurance to their citizens. For instance, the City of Jamaica Beach has adopted in its floodplain ordinance the requirement of all new construction and substantially improved structures to be built at or above the base flood elevation.  Materials below the base flood elevation must be water-resistant, and enclosures can only be used for parking, storage, or access. In the high velocity zones, walls for enclosures below the BFE do not need venting, but they must be made of breakaway walls. These walls are designed to breakaway with the high flow of water so as not to damage the structure above them.

Contact the Jamaica Beach Building Department for advice before you construct or place anything in the floodplain to ensure that the proper regulations are followed.  Any development in the floodplain without a permit is illegal, and such activity should be reported to the Building Department. Permit information can be obtained at the Jamaica Beach Building Department located at 5264 Jamaica Beach. Elevation certificates on some properties in the floodplain are on file and may be requested from the City.  For more information on requirements for development, refer to the 
Online Services page.

The following links provide useful and cost-effective ways of building in coastal areas:

Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction


Recommended Residential Construction for Coastal Areas:  Building on Strong and Safe Foundations


Design and Construction Guidance for Breakaway Walls below Elevated Coastal Buildings (TB 9)


Free-of-Obstruction Requirements (TB 5)


Corrosion Protection of Metal Connectors in Coastal Areas (TB 8)


Elevator Installation (TB 4)


Flood Damage-Resistant Materials Requirements (TB 2)

Property Protection and Assistance

Rather than wait for a flood to occur, you can act now to protect your property from flood damage. Even if you’ve never flooded before, in the life of a 30-year mortgage, there is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood if a property is located in the floodplain.  Various retrofitting techniques are available to help minimize flooding such as elevating the building, constructing barriers out of fill or concrete, and floodproofing to make the building watertight. Because of Jamaica Beach’s susceptibility to hurricanes and other tropical storms, measures that protect against high winds such as storm shutters or reinforced garage doors, should also be considered.

The City of Jamaica Beach works hard to keep ditches cleaned and maintained so they can function properly in a storm event. For more information on how the drainage system works and to learn about current projects the City has undertaken, contact the Jamaica Beach Building Department. Homeowners with overgrown ditches are encouraged to contact the City for assistance in keeping their drainage easements clean and free of debris.

The Jamaica Beach Building Department provides homeowners with information on how to select a qualified contractor, and how to decide which retrofitting or flood protection technique is right for you and your structure. You can also download the following materials from the FEMA website:

Above the Flood:  Elevating Your Floodprone House

Avoiding Hurricane Damage:  A Checklist for Homeowners

Against the Wind:  Protecting Your Home from Hurricane and Wind Damage

Reduce Your Risk from Natural Disasters

Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting

Protecting Building Utilities from Flood Damage

Floodproofing for Non-Residential Structures

Flood Safety and Recovery

It is important to know the difference between a flood WATCH and a flood WARNING. A flash flood watch is flooding that is possible in your area. A flash flood warning is flooding that is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. The best time to make sure you are ready for the next storm event is before one is headed your way. Have the following emergency supplies available in order to be prepared:

  • Non-perishable foods (at least a three-day supply) and water containers
  • More than one flashlight and extra batteries
  • Candles and matches
  • First-aid kit, along with any prescription medicine
  • Extra plywood (preferably heavy, pre-cut, and pre-drilled) to cover windows
  • Plastic sheeting (for water leaks)
  • Battery-powered radio (and/or a NOAA Weather Radio)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Copies of personal documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home)
  • Extra cash
  • Camera for photos of damage
  • Pictures of your most valuable possessions (TV, furniture, jewelry, electronic equipment, appliances, etc.). These (and the item receipts) will come in handy to the insurance agent if the items are damaged by the flood event.

    Flood Safety Tips 
    It is a good idea to have an emergency plan in place, and to follow the guidelines below regarding safety. You can also click on the Emergency Preparedness page of the City website for more information on how to sign up with Blackboard Connect and other useful tips to help prepare you for the next hurricane season.

  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to higher safer ground.
  • If Emergency Management Officials tell you to evacuate or leave your home, go immediately to a safe shelter, hotel, or relative’s house. Evacuation maps for Jamaica Beach residents and other coastal communities can be found on the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management website:  
  • Make sure your family and employer know where you can be reached if you must leave your home in an evacuation.
  • Before you leave turn off all utilities, gas, and electricity at the main switch. Stay away from power and electrical lines. Be alert for gas leaks. 
  • Do not walk through flowing water. Drowning is the number one cause of flood related deaths. Flood waters can also contain contaminants and pests (i.e., snakes).
  • Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock a person off his feet. 
  • Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in their cars than in any other location, and it only takes two feet of water to move a car. Remember Turn Around Don't Drown!
  • Visit for more information on flood preparation.

    The Recovery Process
    Returning to your home after a major flood event can sometimes be overwhelming. FEMA has numerous publications on how homeowners can recover from a flood. Please click on the links below for more information:

    After the Flood Fact Sheet

    Mold & Mildew: Cleaning up Your Flood Damaged Home

    Recovering From and Coping with Flood Damaged Property

    Coping with a Flood - Before, During and After

    For more information on flood safety, please visit or

  • Flood Insurance

    Basic homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. Jamaica Beach participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which means that federally subsidized flood insurance is available to everyone in the city. The purchase of flood insurance is highly recommended. Remember there is a 30-day waiting period before the policy becomes effective. Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by the bank or loan company when they obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies just cover the building’s structure and not the contents. Policies are available to cover contents also. Remember that a flood insurance policy must be renewed every year. The following FEMA publications may also provide more information:

    Things You Should Know about Flood Insurance

    Summary of Coverage

    Understanding Your Flood Insurance Policy

    Cheaper Flood Insurance:  5 Ways to Lower the Cost of Your Flood Insurance Premium

    Mandatory Purchase of Flood Insurance Guidelines

    Flood Insurance Claims Handbook

    Filing Your Flood Insurance Claim

    Appealing Your Flood Insurance Claim

    Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program

    For More Information...

    Click on any of the following links to learn more about floodplain management:

    Floodsmart: The Official Site of the National Flood Insurance Program

    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

    Texas General Land Office (GLO)

    Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)

    Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)

    Texas Water Development Board (TWDB)

    Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) 

    FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

    United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) - Galveston District

    United States Geological Survey (USGS)

    National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    National Weather Service (NWS)

    National Hurricane Center (NHC)

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