Flood Information

City of Asheville Stormwater Services is working to prevent loss of lives, service disruptions, and damages caused by flooding, while enhancing the natural and beneficial functions of the floodplain. Flooding can be caused by many factors including hurricanes and tropical storms, heavy rains, flash floods, and new development. The Stormwater Program adopts development policies and standards that prevent flooding, preserve stream channels, and minimize water pollution without arresting new or infill development. We also develop detailed watershed plans which promote orderly growth. The City works with local, state, and regional partners to construct flood mitigation solutions.



Drainage Problems


If you have a storm drain near your property, you can help maintain it. It is best not to clear your drain while it is raining or if the storm runoff along the street is running fast. Often storm drain grates get clogged with grass clippings, mulch, trash, or other debris. Remove and properly dispose of any debris that may be blocking the storm drain grate. If the storm drain is on a busy street or the pipe is clogged, call 828-251-1122 or 828-232-4567.

The City of Asheville’s Code of Ordinances, Chapter 16; Street, Sidewalk and Other Public Places, Article I; Section 16-3; Keeping sidewalks, grass strips, drainage swales, and gutters clear, clean, and unobstructed, Sub-section C; Maintenance Requirements, Number 2.

The specific ordinance states that in regard to drainage swales: “The responsible party that has a drainage swale running along the street that abuts the responsible party’s property shall mow and otherwise properly maintain such swale so that it can continue to serve its proper drainage function.”

It is particularly important to maintain the drain before rain starts falling. Because streets are part of our drainage system, if the storm drain grate is clogged with debris, the excess water backs up onto the street and can cause flooding. Maintaining your drain can reduce street flooding.

Storm drains empty directly into creeks, lakes, and rivers. Any of the grass clippings, mulch, trash, or other debris that goes down the storm drain ends up in our local body of water. That can hurt aquatic life. Help keep our waterways clean by maintaining your drain. It is illegal to pour or toss anything into a storm drain.

Notice: To report illegal discharge into a storm drain call 828-232-4567, Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., or 828-251-1122 after normal business hours.


Floodplain Basics


The floodplain is the area of land near a waterway which floods when the waterway is carrying a larger volume of water than normal. Some floodplains are wide while others are narrow. Some floodplains experience frequent flooding while others are very infrequent.

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) depict areas of flood risk. These maps were created as part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The City is a participating community in the NFIP.  The NFIP offers insurance to citizens located in flood-prone areas. Visit the Flood Map Service Center or the NC Flood Risk Information System for more information.

Floodplains provide beneficial natural functions that help improve and protect water quality. Floodplains provide natural storage and conveyance of flood waters, and can reduce the severity and frequency of floods. Floodplains help maintain biodiversity and integrity of ecosystems for fish and wildlife. In addition, they help improve water quality through filtering nutrients from runoff and reduce stream bank erosion and sedimentation.


Before it Floods

  • Find out if your property is in a designated flood zone.
  • Why buy flood insurance?  Homeowners’ and renters’ insurance does not typically cover flood damage.
  • Purchase flood insurance. Flood losses are rarely covered under renters’ or homeowners’ insurance policies. Typically there is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to become active under a new policy. Take the time to understand your flood insurance policy.
  • Avoid building in a floodplain unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Be Prepared.  Develop an emergency plan and create an emergency kit.  Visit NCReady for additional information. Inform yourself about floods.
  • Keep a supply of fresh water on hand.
  • Clean out storm drains near your home or business, removing any debris.
  • Create an inventory of your personal property and its approximate value. Save receipts from expensive items.
  • Have a battery-operated flashlight.
  • Have a battery-operated radio, TV, or internet access that does not rely on electricity.
  • Sign up for AVL Alerts.
  • The city provides retrofitting guidance for your flood-prone structure or stormwater issue, and will visit your property upon request. Please contact us at stormwater@ashevillenc.gov or 828-259-5670.  


During a Flood

  • Call 911 to report potentially dangerous flooding
  • Do not let children play near creeks or streams when the water is rising.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground (do not wait for instructions to move).
  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Do not walk through flowing water. The current in just six inches of water can sweep you off of your feet.
  • Do not drive through standing water. If your vehicle stalls, abandon it and get to higher ground. Do not try to push it out of the water.
  • If told to evacuate your home, do so immediately.  Know your evacuation routes and shelters.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so, disconnect electrical appliances, and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.


After a Flood

  • Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert advice as soon as it is available.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Report any downed power lines to your utility company.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
  • Do not use appliances or motors that have gotten wet. Take them to a professional to be cleaned and dried.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from flood waters can contain sewage and chemicals.
  • Throw away any food and medicine that may have been in contact with floodwater.
  • Report potential hazards and storm damage.
  • All structures affected by flooding will need to obtain building and flood permits from the Development Services Department.
  • You may proceed with cleanup activities and temporary emergency repairs to prevent further deterioration, such as preventing the spread of mold and/or mildew without a permit.


Buying and Selling Floodplain Property


It is legal to sell property in a floodplain. The State of North Carolina requires sellers to inform prospective buyers of flood drainage problems. The State of North Carolina Residential Property & Owners’ Association Disclosure Statement requires the seller to tell the buyer if there are any problems with dampness or standing water. Sellers also have to disclose if the property is a flood hazard or if the property is located in a federally-designated flood hazard area.


Development in the Floodplain

The City of Asheville Unified Development Ordinance regulates development activities in the floodplain. All development and (re)construction in the floodplain requires a permit from the Development Services Department located at 161 S. Charlotte St. To report illegal development in the floodplain, please contact stormwater@ashevillenc.gov, or 828-259-5670.

The Flood Protection Ordinance Section 7-12-1 provides detailed requirements for development in the floodplain. Section 7-5-12 provides information on floodplain development review process.

Substantial Improvement is defined as any combination of repairs, reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvement of a structure, for which the cost equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement. Substantial Damage means damage of any origin sustained by a structure whereby the cost of restoring the structure to its before-damaged condition would equal or exceed 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred. These costs are cumulative and tracked over a continuous one year period, from CO/CC.

For more information on permit requirements and process for residential development, click here.  For commercial development, click here. contact the Development Services Department Site Engineering Division for any questions at 828-259-5670 or stormwater@ashevillenc.gov.


Backyard Streams

Many Asheville residents have streams on their property. During storm events or heavy rains these streams may erode the land or cut deeper channels, creating potential problems for the landowners or neighbors in the watershed. The NC Cooperative Extension Backyard Stream Repair team produced a guide, Small-Scale Solutions to Eroding Streambanks, to give residents many ways to manage and maintain streambanks. Backyard stream repair workshops are also held at various locations across the state to provide residents with hands-on opportunities to learn how to stabilize stream banks, enhance their property, and improve the environment.


Community Rating System Program

The Community Rating System (CRS) Program, a part of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), is a voluntary incentive program that provides discounts on flood insurance premiums to communities that exceed standards for floodplain management. As of December 2014, the City of Asheville has achieved a 10% discount on flood insurance premiums for all special flood hazard area property owners in the City due to the steps the City has taken to reduce flood damage across the community.


Asheville/Buncombe Flood Damage Reduction Task Force

On May 23, 2006, the Asheville City Council appointed a Flood Damage Reduction Task Force consisting of City staff, members of the development community, owners of private property in the city, and environmental representatives. The task force’s mission is to establish a regional approach and long-range plan for flood damage reduction, floodplain protection, and watershed management. The plan is based on on best management models, which integrate objectives of flood control, transportation, economic development, land use and community planning, recreation, and environmental preservation. For additional information, see the Flood Damage Reduction Task Force Findings and Recommendations from Oct. 30, 2007.


Flood Response Plans


During hurricanes, tropical storms, or heavy rain events, there are areas within the City that have had damaging floods or shown the potential for them. The Army Corps of Engineers has composed emergency response plans that describe temporary and permanent flood proofing measures that may help provide protection to personal safety and property for the Biltmore Village area:




Flood Risk Information System Map – to find out if your property is in a flood risk zone

Flood insurance – FEMA

Understanding flood insurance

Federal – flood map

Search Elevation Certificates on file with the City of Asheville

Real Time Water Levels