Flood Information

Local Flood Hazard

Flood hazard areas have been mapped in the City of Wilson and Wilson County. Most of these areas are located along the various creeks and streams throughout the City and County. Maps showing the location of these flood hazard areas are available for viewing at the Wilson County Public Library and the City of Wilson Planning Department. Elevation certificates are also available at the City of Wilson Planning Department.

While hurricanes are generally considered a coastal problem, Hurricane Hugo illustrated that piedmont counties are not safe from the crushing winds and inland flooding caused by hurricanes. You should be concerned about them.

Inland flooding due to smaller storms is more frequent than hurricanes and can cause dams to overflow and streams and rivers to swell. These floods can cause great damage and loss of life. Flash floods move very fast. They can roll boulders, uproot trees, and destroy buildings and bridges.

The Natural and Beneficial Functions of the Local Flood Plain

The preservation (or restoration) of floodplains in their natural state is beneficial to both humans and natural systems. These benefits include aesthetic pleasure, reducing the severity of floods, helping storm water runoff, and minimizing non-point water pollution.

Floods that occur naturally along rivers and streams carry nutrient-rich sediments which contribute to a fertile environment for vegetation. The wetlands associated with these floodplains assist in filtering floodwaters and help to maintain bio-diversity and ecosystem sustainability.

Flood Warning

NOAA, the U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, keeps a round-the-clock, round-the-calendar watch on the nation's rivers and is ready to issue warnings when the threat of flooding occurs. 

A watch on the nation's river systems is kept by National Weather Service River Forecast Centers, and they make flood forecasts for the major river systems and flash flood guidance for the smaller streams and headwater regions. National Weather Service Offices use this information to issue flood warnings and flash flood watches to the public. 

Flash flood warnings are issued by National Weather Service Offices, which have the local and county warning responsibility.

Flood warnings are forecasts of coming floods, and are distributed to the public by the NOAA Weather Radio (Raleigh/Durham broadcasts at 162.550 MHz; Rocky Mount at 162.465 MHz), commercial radio and television, and through local emergency agencies. The warning message tells the expected degree of flooding, the affected river, when and where flooding will begin, and the expected maximum river level at specific forecast points during flood crest. 

More information is available at the Wilson County Public Library and the City of Wilson Planning Department.

Be Prepared

Early flood and hurricane warnings provide time for people in threatened areas to prepare, and by doing so, to lessen their damages.

Before the storm threatens

  • Find out if your home is subject to flooding. The City Planning Department has copies of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps, which identify property subject to a 100-year storm frequency.
  • Inventory your property. A complete inventory of personal property will help obtain insurance settlements and/or tax deductions for losses. Inventory checklists can be obtained from your insurance representative. Be sure to take pictures and list descriptions. Store these and other important insurance papers in waterproof containers or in your safety deposit box.
  • Review your insurance policies and coverage to avoid misunderstanding later. Take advantage of flood insurance. Separate policies are needed for protection against wind and flood damage, which people frequently don't realize until too late.

In addition, you will be better prepared if you do the following: 

  • Listen to local radio/television stations for forecasts and emergency instructions. Post their dial/channel numbers for easy access.
  • Learn your children's school and/or day care center emergency plans.
  • Decide on an alternate location to meet if an emergency happens while your family is away from home and cannot return.
  • Know the location of the shelter nearest your home.
  • Post all emergency plans/phone numbers in a prominent place (both at home and at work).
  • Learn your community's evacuation routes as you may be forced to leave your home. This is especially important in low-lying areas where flooding can make roads impassable.
  • Prepare First Aid Kit
  • Learn first aid. Professional medical assistance may not be available.

When a watch is issued:

  • Listen to storm reports on radio and television.
  • If considering moving to a shelter, make arrangements for all pets. Pets are not allowed in shelters.
  • Refill needed prescriptions.
  • If evacuation has not already been recommended, consider leaving the area early to avoid long hours on limited evacuation routes.
  • Check battery-powered equipment. It will be needed if utility services are interrupted.
  • Keep your car fueled should evacuation be necessary. Service stations may be closed after the storm strikes.

When a warning is issued:

  • Keep your car fueled.
  • Listen to local radio/television broadcasts for emergency instructions and the latest information.
  • Follow the instructions and advice of your local governments. If you are advised to evacuate, do so promptly.
  • Keep phone lines open to notify local authorities of occurring events such as fires, flash floods, tornado sightings, injuries or damage. Do not use the telephone to obtain emergency information.

If, and only if, time permits . . . there are several things you should do:

  • Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary. Do not touch any electrical equipment unless it is in a dry area, or you are standing on a piece of dry wood while wearing rubber-soled shoes or boots and rubber gloves .
  • Move valuable papers, jewelry, clothing, etc. to upper floors or higher areas.
  • Fill bathtubs, sinks, and jugs with clean water in case regular supplies are contaminated (sanitize these items by first rinsing with bleach).
  • Board up windows or protect them with storm shutters or tape (to prevent flying glass).
  • Bring outdoor items (i.e. lawn furniture, trash cans, tools, signs, etc.) inside the house or tie them down securely.

If you're caught in the house by suddenly rising waters, move to the second floor and, if necessart, to the roof.

If it is safe to evacuate by car, you should consider the following:

  • Stock the car with nonperishable foods, a plastic container of water, blankets, first aid kit, flashlights, dry clothing and any special medication needed by your family.
  • Do not drive where water is over the road. Parts of the road may already be washed out.
  • If you car stalls in a flooded area, abandon it as soon as possible. Floodwaters can rise rapidly and sweep a car (and its occupants) away.
  • When outside the house, remember . . . floods are deceptive. Try to avoid flooded areas, and don't attempt to walk across stretches of flood waters that are more than knee deep.

If you go to a shelter:

  • Take blankets or sleeping bags, flashlights, special foods, infant needs and lightweight folding chairs.
  • Register every person arriving with you at the shelter.
  • Do not take pets, alcoholic beverages or weapons of any kind to shelters.
  • Be prepared to offer assistance to shelter workers if necessary, and stress to all family members their obligations to keep the shelter clean and sanitary.

Carry along survival supplies:

  • First Aid Kit
  • Canned/dried food, can opener, spoons, etc.
  • Bottled water   
  • Extra family medication, prescriptions
  • Spare eyeglasses, hearing aid and batteries.   

Keep important papers with you at all times:

  • Driver's License and other identification
  • Insurance policies
  • Property inventory
  • Medic-alert or special medical info
  • Maps to your destination.

Take warm, protective clothing.

Once in a shelter or safer area, stay there until local authorities tell you it is safe to return home.

Additional information on flood safety is available at the Wilson County Public Library and the City of Wilson Planning Department.

Flood Insurance

Your homeowner’s insurance policy will not cover losses due to flooding. Wilson participates in the National Flood Insurance Program which makes flood insurance available to everyone in the city. For many people, their home and its contents represent their greatest investment. 

We strongly urge you to consider buying flood insurance to protect yourself from devastating losses due to flooding. Information about flood insurance can be obtained from your insurance agent. You do not have to live in the floodplain to qualify for flood insurance. 

Property owners can insure their buildings and contents and renters can insure their possessions. Just because your house has not flooded in the recent past does not mean that you are safe.

For more information regarding flood insurance costs and coverage please visit the the following site: FEMA Information for Homeowners and Renters

Amount of Flood Insurance Available in Wilson

Building Coverage

Single-family dwelling $250,000
Other residential $250,000

Non-residential $500,000
Small Business $500,000

Contents Coverage

Residential $100,000
Non-Residential $500,000 
Small Business $500,000

Property Protection Measures

Every year, flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other type of natural disaster. While recent improvements in construction practices and regulations have made new homes less prone to flood damage, there are a large number of existing homes that continue to have repetitive flood losses. Many of these homeowners feel they are trapped in a never ending cycle of flooding and repairing, the house is rarely the same, and its value usually declines. However, there are ways this cycle of repetitive flooding can be broken. Throughout the country, numerous examples can be found to illustrate practical and cost-effective methods for reducing or eliminating the risk of a house being flooded again. Or, in cases where flooding may be unavoidable, steps can be taken to reduce the amount of damages.

Some have reduced their flood losses by taking temporary measures such as moving furniture and equipment to upper floors or to higher elevations. Others have held back rising waters by sandbagging or building temporary levees.

More permanent approaches have also been used. The Federal Insurance Administration has published a manual that describes various techniques that can be used to floodproof an existing building. This process is also known as "retrofitting".

The Design Manual for Retrofitting Floodprone Residential Structures presents a series of permanent retrofitting measures that can be incorporated into an existing house to reduce or eliminate the potential of future flooding. The measures covered include:

  • Elevation of a structure
  • Relocation of a structure
  • Use of levees and floodwalls
  • Sealing a structure
  • Protection of utilities

The Design Manual for Retrofitting Floodprone Residential Structures can be ordered free of charge by writing:

Federal Emergency Management Agency
P. O. Box 70274 
Washington, D.C. 20024 
ATTN: Publications

Copies are also available for reference at the Wilson County Public Library and the City of Wilson Planning Department.

Floodplain Development Permits

All properties located in "A" zones on the community's Flood Insurance Rate Map (100-year floodplain on the Flood Hazard Boundary Map) are subject to regulations. Before starting development in "A" zones, a builder must get a permit from the City (call the City Planning and Inspections office for more information).   Development activities subject to these regulations are any man-made change to improved or unimproved real estate, including but not limited to buildings or other structures, mining, dredging, filling, grading, paving, excavation or drilling operations. The City may levy a fine and/or obtain a court order to have the owner correct the construction if built without a permit or if not built according to the approved plans. Illegal floodplain development should be reported to the City Planning and Inspections office.

The Substantial Improvment/Substantial Damage Requirements

Substantial damage:  Damage of any origin sustained by a structure during any one-year period whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed fifty (50) percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. See definition of "substantial improvement." Substantial damage also means flood-related damage sustained by a structure on two separate occasions during a 10-year period for which the cost of repairs at the time of each such flood event, on the average, equals or exceeds twenty-five (25) percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.

Substantial improvement: Any combination of repairs, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, taking place during any one-year period, whereby the cost of which equals or exceeds fifty (50) percent of the market value of the structure before the "start of construction" of the improvement. This term includes structures which have incurred "substantial damage", regardless of the actual repair work performed. The term does not, however, include either:

  • (a) Any correction of existing violations of State or community health, sanitary, or safety code specifications which have been identified by the community code enforcement official and which are the minimum necessary to assure safe living conditions; or
  • (b) Any alteration of a historic structure, provided that the alteration will not preclude the structure's continued designation as a historic structure.

When additions and/or improvements to structures whereas the addition and/or improvements in combination with any interior modifications to the existing structure are a substantial improvement, both the existing structure and the addition and/or improvements must comply with the standards for new construction.

Drainage System Maintenance

Steams, channels, and detention/retention basins can lose their carrying capacities as a result of dumping, debris, sedimentation and growth of vegetation. When a drainage system loses a portion of its carrying or storage capacity, overbank flooding occurs more frequently and floods reach higher elevations. Dumping in streams is a violation of regulations; it should be reported to the City Planning and Development Services office (and you can contact them for more information).