Local Flood Hazard

Flooding is a potential threat anywhere.  A storm can turn into a flood even if you don’t live near a stream or river.  More than 90% of all property damage in the United States caused by natural disasters is the result of flooding, and flooding causes more than 2 billion dollars in damage each year nationally.  Your property may be high enough that it has not flooded recently, however it can still be flooded in the future because the next flood could be worse.  If you are in the floodplain, the odds are that someday your property will be damaged.

Contact Us

215 N. Bayou Road

P. O. Box 1439
Cleveland, MS  38732
Telephone: 662-843-4601
Fax: 662-846-5701
Kenneth Taylor,

Floodplain Administrator


Hours of operation:

8:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Flooding in Cleveland is mainly caused from large amounts of rainfall over short periods of time and overtaxing drainage systems.  The main drainage systems affecting Cleveland are the Jones Bayou drainage system, the Pecan Bayou drainage system, the Lead Bayou drainage system, and the Bear Pen Canal drainage system.  The majority of populated residential area is concentrated around the Jones Bayou drainage system, and contains the largest mapped floodplain area in Cleveland.   

Most direct causes of flooding are attributed to flash flooding on city streets and around storm drains due to the flat topography of the area.  Flooding can cover many blocks at times over one foot in depth.  The most common flood damage reported has been to parked vehicles in city streets and minor residential and commercial damage such as flooring, baseboards, and sheetrock.  During torrential rainstorms, flash flooding can occur with little or no warning.  

Tools such as the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) can be found in the sidebar of this page and other
pertinent documents have been included in the "Forms & Maps" section of this website so that you can determine if you live in or near a mapped special flood hazard area.  Also other tools such as the Floodplain Management Plan outline problems areas and identify projects to alleviate issues associated with flooding and the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance outlines regulations for floodplain development.


In the United States there are over 115,000 repetitive loss properties.  Although some of these properties have had mitigation measures applied to them, most remain at risk of flooding.  A repetitive loss property is one for which two or more flood insurance claims of more than $1,000 have been paid by the NFIP within any 10-year period since 1978.  Repetitive loss properties represent only 1% of all NFIP’s insurance policies nationwide, but they have accounted for nearly one-third of the claim payments.

Each year FEMA produces a list of repetitive loss properties for communities in or interested in the CRS program.  Even though there are only six repetitive loss properties in Cleveland, officials have designated seven repetitive loss areas as areas that pose the greatest risk for potential repetitive losses.  More information can be obtained from the Department of Community Development at 662-843-4601.

City Flood Services: The first thing you should do is check your flood hazard.  Some reference material can be found at the Bolivar County Public Library on South Court Street.  You can also visit the Department of Community Development at 215 N. Bayou Road to see if you are in a mapped floodplain or repetitive loss area.  At the Department of Community
Development you can get more information, such as depth of flooding, past flood problems in an area, and copies of elevation certificates on buildings built in the special flood hazard area since 1987.  Upon request, they can also give you a map determination letter designating what flood zone your property is located in.  

Upon request, the Department of Community Development can send someone to your property to review its flooding problems and explain ways to stop flooding or prevent flood damage.  You can call them at 662-843-4601 to schedule a site visit.  These services are free to the public, and you are encouraged to educate yourself on your risk of flooding and what you can do to alleviate it. 


Flood Safety

Before a flood, you should:

·Avoid building in a
flood prone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
·Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electrical panel if susceptible to flooding.
·Install “check valves” in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
·Contact your community officials to find out what projects are planned to stop floodwater from entering homes in your area.

During a flood, you should:

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

·Listen to the radio or television for information.
·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.
·Be aware of streams, drainage channels, and other areas known to flood suddenly.  Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warnings as rain clouds or heavy rain.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

·Secure your home.  If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture.  Move essential items to an upper floor.
·Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so.  Disconnect electrical appliances.  Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

If you have to leave your home, remember these evacuation tips:

not walk through moving water.  Six inches of moving water can make you fall.  If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving.  Use a stick to check for firmness of the ground in front of you.
not drive into flooded areas.  If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.  You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.

When driving in flood conditions, remember the following:

·Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars causing loss of control and possible stalling.
·A foot of water will float many vehicles.
·Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles and pick-ups.


After a flood:

·Listen to news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
·Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage.  Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
·Avoid moving water.
·Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded.  Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
·Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
·Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
·Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
·Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.
·Service damaged sewer lines as soon as possible.  Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
·Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.  Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.


Flood Insurance
If you don’t have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent.  Homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage from floods.  However, because Cleveland participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy at a reduced cost.  This insurance is backed by the Federal government and is available to everyone, even for properties that have been flooded, or even for those not located in a special flood hazard area.  There is a 26% chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage compared to a 4% chance of fire.

Some people have purchased flood insurance because the bank required it when they got a mortgage or home improvement loan. 
Usually these policies just cover the building’s structure and not the contents.  During the kind of flooding that happens in Cleveland, there is usually more damage to the furniture and contents than there is to the structure.  If you are covered, double-check that the building coverage is adequate and make sure you have contents coverage.  Remember, even if the last flood missed you or you have done some flood proofing, the next flood could be worse.  Flood insurance covers direct losses caused by surface flooding, including a river flowing over its banks, a lake or ocean storm, and local drainage problems. The NFIP insures buildings, including mobile homes, with two types of coverage: building and contents.

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.  For more information, you can download a copy of FEMA publication F-061 “Your Homeowners Insurance Does Not Cover Floods”. 

Flood insurance is mandatory for any federally backed mortgage on buildings located in the special flood hazard area.  


Property Protection Measures
Before flooding occurs, make a list of your property and photograph or video everything in your house.  Store the photographs or videos in a safe location such as a bank lock box.  If you live in frequently flooded areas, keep on hand materials such as sandbags, plastic
sheeting and lumber that can be used to protect your property.

When flooding occurs, raise your furniture to avoid damage if water gets into your house and bring outdoor possessions inside to avoid damage.

After flooding occurs, contact your insurance agent immediately.  If floodwaters have reached belongings, rinse them off as soon as possible.  Take wooden furniture outdoors, but keep out of direct sunlight.  If mud is in the house, remove it at once while it is still moist.  Clean all metal objects at once.

Natural and Beneficial Functions
The City of Cleveland is a beautiful place to live, and the areas within or near our floodplains are an important asset.  These wetland areas provide a wide range of benefits for the human and natural systems.  Water quality is improved through the wetlands ability to filter nutrients and impurities from runoff and to process organic wastes.  These areas provide breeding and feeding areas for fish and other wildlife, create and enhance waterfowl habitat, support a high rate of plant growth and maintain biodiversity and the integrity of the ecosystem.  Floodplains provide green space for
protection of streams from development and the forces of erosion.

Areas such as the Cleveland Nature Trail provide a natural habitat for wildlife, help to educate citizens on naturally occurring tree species, and leave a sufficient amount of open space next to Jones Bayou.


Floodplain Development Permits
All citizens are encouraged to check with the Department of Community Development before you build on, alter, regrade, or fill any property in a special flood hazard area.  A permit will be required to ensure that projects do not cause problems on adjacent properties or for those downstream.  

If you see someone building or filling property in the special flood hazard area without a city permit sign posted, please contact the Department of Community Development at 662-843-4601.  Reporting illegal floodplain development will help to ensure the development does not cause flooding problems for anyone.


Substantial Improvement/Damage
Substantial Improvement means any combination of reconstruction, rehabilitation, or
other improvement of a structure taking place during the life of the building, in which the cumulative percentage of improvement equals or exceeds 50% of the current market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement.  The costs for determining substantial improvement include the costs of additions.  This term includes structures which have incurred repetitive loss or substantial damage, regardless of the actual repair work performed.

Substantial damage means damage of any origin sustained by a structure in a special flood hazard area whereby the cost of restoring the structure to
it’s before damaged condition would equal or exceed 50% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.  Substantial damage also means flood-related damages sustained by a structure on two separate occasions during a 10-year period for with the cost of repairs at the time of each flood event, on the average, equals or exceeds 25% of the market value of the structure before the damage occurred.

As previously mentioned, any construction, alteration, addition, or other construction to a property will require a permit from the Department of Community Development.  In the case of substantial improvement or substantial damage, the Community Development staff will use Bolivar County tax assessed values unless the applicant provides a valid appraisal of the property in question during the time frame referenced.

Drainage System Maintenance
The City of Cleveland has an ongoing drainage system maintenance program.  Personnel regularly perform drainage system inspections and work to alleviate problems before flooding occurs.  Crews also work tirelessly to keep water moving during rain events and to prevent properties from experiencing damage or loss.

Several of the City’s efforts depend on your cooperation and assistance.  Here are a few ways that any citizen can help:

·Do not dump or throw anything into the ditches, streams, or storm drains.  Dumping in any drainage structure is a violation of the Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance.  Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels.  A plugged channel cannot carry water and when it rains the water has to go somewhere.  Every piece of trash contributes to flooding.  The Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance makes it illegal to take any action that will impede the flow of water in
ditches, or storm drain systems.  All leaves, yard clippings, trash and debris should be bagged for pick up by the city’s waste handler.

·If your property is next to a ditch or stream, please do your part and keep the banks clear of brush and debris.  The city has a stream maintenance program that can help remove major blockages such as downed trees.  The city conducts routine inspections of all ditches,
streams and channels several times each year but if you spot a problem or blockage you are asked to call the Department of Community Development and report it as soon as possible so that crews can effectively handle the situation. ·If you see dumping or debris in the ditches or storm drains, please contact the Department of Community Development at 662-843-4601.  The drainage system belongs to all the citizens of Cleveland and will require your assistance to keep it in good working order.

100 North Street  

Cleveland, MS 38732  


© 2017 City Of Cleveland, MS


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