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What are floodplains?

Floodplains are the areas along streams or rivers that are likely to experience repeated flooding.

Over thousands of years, nature shaped the floodplain to hold excess water that spills over the banks. Simply put, floodplains are meant to flood.

Floodplain along Little Sugar CreekBecause nature designed floodplains to flood, the floodplain is considered to be part of a healthy creek system.
Decades ago, homes and buildings were often built in floodplains in Charlotte and across the nation. That's because:
  • water was easily available for drinking or commercial uses
  • floodplain land is often flat and easier to develop than hilly land.
Since the late 1970s, building in local floodplains has been restricted. Protecting floodplains from additional development can reduce flood
losses and improve the environment.
                                                                                                                            This restored floodplain is along Little
Floodplain maps                                                                                                          Sugar Creek in Hidden Valley​

Floodplain maps show areas along creeks with a specific risk of flooding. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, floodplain maps are used to: 

More about how floodplain maps are used.

Local Floodplain Maps show both FEMA and Community Floodplains.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg floodplain maps are being updated. Learn more​

Flooded floodplain 
Floodplains are designed by nature to flood

Floodplain maps show land along major creeks with a 1% chance of flooding in any given year. That’s sometimes called a 100-year flood. Even inside the mapped, regulated floodplain, flood risks vary. Some parts of the floodplain have a 50% chance of flooding every year. And the highest-risk sections of the floodplain have nearly a 100% chance of flooding every year. 
Remember: Flooding also happens outside of the mapped floodplain. Flooding can occur in any lower-lying area, regardless of how close that land is to a creek or river.