Protect Your Property from Flooding

Find practical tips to protect your property from damage during a flood event and more information about the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program.

Keep leaves and debris out of drains

When it rains, street drains help to keep city neighborhoods from flooding. When leaves collect in gutters and block these drains, water can back up and cause ponding that slows or stops traffic and can flood yards and homes. Properly disposing of leaves keeps them out of storm drains, preventing clogged storm drains and flooding.

  • Avoid piling yard waste like fallen leaves and sticks in your yard, where it could wash into City drains. Keep it in a yard waste bin or compost your leaves and grass clippings for free at the annual Fall Leaf Haul.
  • Use a rake or broom to remove leaves and debris from the tops of storm drains, and place the material in your yard waste cart.

Maintain your drainage system

  • Regularly inspect your property’s drainage system. This is especially important on commercial properties that have catch basins or other drainage systems. Maintaining these systems is the property owner’s responsibility.
  • Consider replacing aging or broken pipes that may not be draining efficiently.
  • If you have a driveway that leads down from the street, be sure to clear the drain at the bottom of the slope.
  • Make sure your drainage system directs water away from the foundation of your home and not onto a neighbor's property

Help prevent neighborhood drainage problems

  • Do not put grass clippings, leaves, or other debris into any of the drains, ditches, streams, waterways, creeks, or rivers in the city. Raking or blowing leaves into the street is prohibited by SRC 47.200.
  • Be proactive. Keep an eye on drainage near your property and report problems before the rains come.
  • It is against the law to dump or allow any material to enter the drainage system, as it leads to blockages. You can report illegal dumping online.

Consider permanent retrofitting measures

Whether or not your home has experienced damage from flooding in the past, you can take practical and cost-effective measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of flooding. Such techniques include elevating the home, relocating the home to higher ground, constructing flood walls or berms, installing flood vents to equalize flood waters, flood proofing, and protecting utilities. FEMA P-312, Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your Home From Flooding, provides information that will help you decide whether your house is a candidate for retrofitting.

You can request a site visit from a certified floodplain manager, building inspector, or stormwater maintenance personnel to review flood, drainage, and stormwater issues on your property.

Sandbag installation

During times of flooding, homes that have not been retrofitted can be protected during emergencies by the installation of sandbags. Further information about sandbags and the locations of sandbag sites is available during a storm event.

Flood Mitigation Assistance Program

FEMA is authorized to provide grants to states and communities for planning assistance and for mitigation projects that reduce the risk of flood damage to structures covered by flood insurance. Most FEMA grants provide 75 percent of the cost of a project. The owner is expected to fund the other 25 percent, although in some cases the state or local government may contribute to the non-FEMA share.

Each program has a different Congressional authorization and slightly different rules. States and communities set their own priorities for the use of the grant funds but are strongly encouraged to address their repetitive flood problems. In no case can a FEMA grant be used on a project without the completely voluntary agreement of the owner.

Since July 1, 1997, all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance policies include Increase Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage. If you have National Flood Insurance Program insurance, and your structure has been declared substantially damaged from a flood, ICC coverage will cover up to $30,000 for the cost to elevate, flood-proof, demolish, or relocate your structure. ICC coverage is in addition to the coverage you receive to repair flood damages; however, the total payout on a policy may not exceed $250,000 for residential buildings and $500,000 for non-residential buildings.

“Substantial damage” means damage sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its condition immediately prior to the damage would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. Similarly, “substantial improvement” includes any reconstruction, rehabilitation, or addition to an existing structure, the cost of which exceeds 50 percent of the structure’s appraised or market value (whichever the builder chooses to use).

Yellow house with flood waters in front.

Contact us

Public Works Department
8:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
555 Liberty ST SE RM 325
Salem OR 97301

​Additional resources

Phone Number
Tree Trimming or Removal PermitCity Planners can provide information about protection of vegetation and trees along waterways and tree removal.
Emergency and Disaster PreparednessFor assistance in an emergency, call 911. Contact us to learn more about preparing for a disaster or for information on the City's emergency management program.
Salem Public Library WebsiteThe library collection contains floodplain publications and other floodplain-related information.
Call dispatch if you discover problems with a street or your water / sewer service (i.e. broken pipe, pothole, environmental spill, clogged street drain).
Contact Development Services to speak with a Floodplain Manager or if you have questions about the interactive floodplain map.
Mid Willamette Valley High Water WatchView current stream levels and rainfall data in near real-time from a number of sites across the City.
Floodsmart WebsiteThe Floodsmart website provides information about the National Flood Insurance Program, answers questions about flood insurance, and provides assistance to find local insurance agents that offer flood insurance.
Oregon Department of State Lands WebsiteDSL reviews and issues removal/fill permits for development activities in waterways and wetlands.
USACE Flood Risk Management WebsiteTo find out more information about the USACE Flood Risk Management Program.