Flood Program

About Floods

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Like other low lying coastal areas, Portsmouth's elevation and proximity to water makes it susceptible to flooding. Nearly every year, and sometimes several times throughout the year during periods of heavy rain, hurricanes or nor'easter storms, properties in Portsmouth are threatened by floodwaters.

Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters. Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future.


Flood Insurance Rate Maps

Flood zones are geographic areas that FEMA has defined according to varying levels of flood risk and type of flooding. These zones are depicted on the published Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM).

Developing & Building in the Floodplain

Portsmouth City Code (Chapter 14.1) regulates development in the floodplain area. A permit is required for ALL construction and development (any manmade change) in areas designated as floodplain areas. An Elevation Certificate may be required be submitted for the property. Any illegal construction or development in the floodplain should be reported to the Department of Permits and Inspections at 757-393-8531.

Flood Insurance

In 1968, Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help provide a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding. Click here for more information about flood insurance.

NFIP's Community Rating System (CRS) Program

The City's Flood Program is Helping You!

Portsmouth is one of 22 Virginia localities actively participating in the NFIP's Community Rating System (CRS) Program. As a participant in the CRS program, we must perform regular flood prevention activities. CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements.

The Floodplain Management Plan (PDF) adopted by City Council outlines our strategy for flood prevention for the coming years.

We all know that there will be flooding in the future. By learning from the past, examining successful mitigation strategies, and implementing sound floodplain management programs, such as those credited under FEMA's Community Rating System, we can build a more resilient community for the future.

Because of this commitment to flood prevention, we have achieved a 15% discount (for our citizens in the flood hazard zones) on your flood insurance premiums!


Additional information and resources can be found at FEMA.gov and FloodSmart.gov.