Flood Hazard: Check Before You Buy

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Flooding and other surface drainage problems can occur well away from a river, lake, or ocean. The City of Cathedral City is especially prone to flooding due to its proximity to the adjacent mountains, with significant storm water runoff generally experienced from time to time in the Whitewater River, Eagle Canyon Creek, Palm Canyon Wash, East and West Cathedral Canyon Channels, Longs Canyon Creek, and Mission Creek. However, many other areas within the City of Cathedral City beyond these natural drainage courses experience flooding. Maps of flood hazard areas are available for review at the Community Development Department, Engineering at Cathedral City City Hall, located at 68700 Avenida Lalo Guerrero. Although much of the City is protected by a variety of flood control improvements, including concrete levees, storm drains, and detention basins, there are areas of the City where properties are located in special flood hazard areas with risk of flooding as a result of severe storms. If you're looking at purchasing a property, it is important to determine if the property is located within a special flood hazard area before you buy. Here's why:

  • The force of moving water or waves can destroy a building.
  • Slow-moving floodwaters can knock people off their feet or float a car.
  • Even standing water can float a building, collapse basement walls, or buckle a concrete floor.
  • Water-soaked contents, such as carpeting, clothing, upholstered furniture, and mattresses, may have to be thrown away after a flood.
  • Floodwaters are not clean: floods carry mud, farm chemicals, road oil, and other noxious substances that cause health hazards.
  • The impact of a flood: clean up, making repairs and the personal losses -can cause great stress to you, your family, and your finances.

Floodplain Regulations: The City of Cathedral City regulates construction and development in special flood hazard areas to ensure that buildings will be protected from flood damage. Elevating flood hazard areas with earth (filling) and similar projects are prohibited in certain areas, specifically within designated floodways. Houses substantially damaged by fire, flood, or any other cause must be elevated to or above the flood level when they are repaired. Specific flood damage prevention regulations may be obtained from the City of Cathedral City Community Development Department and Engineering.

Check for the Flood Hazard: Before you commit yourself to buying property in the City of Cathedral City, you should do the following:

  • Ask the City of Cathedral City Community Development and Engineering Department if the property is in a floodplain; if it has ever been flooded; what the flood depth, velocity, and warning time are; if it is subject to any other hazards; and what building or zoning regulations are in effect. They will fill out a Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) Information form with the flood zone information for your property.
  • Ask the real estate agent if the property is in a floodplain, if it has ever been flooded, and if it is subject to any other hazards, such as sewer backup or subsidence.
  • Ask the seller and the neighbors if the property is in a floodplain, how long they have lived there, if the property has ever been flooded, and if it is subject to any other hazards.

Flood Protection: A building can be protected from most flood hazards, sometimes at a relatively low cost. New buildings and additions can be elevated above flood levels. Existing buildings can be protected from shallow floodwaters by regrading, berms, or floodwalls, There are other retrofitting techniques that can protect a building from surface or subsurface water.

Flood Insurance: Homeowners insurance usually does not include coverage for a flood. One of the best protection measures for a building with a flood problem is National Flood Insurance, which is purchased through any property insurance agent. If the building is located in a floodplain, flood insurance will be required by most mortgage lenders. Ask an insurance agent how much a flood insurance policy would cost.

Important Note Regarding Flood Insurance: Don't wait for the next flood to buy insurance protection. There is a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance Program coverage takes effect. Contact your insurance agent for more information on rates and coverage.