Flooding Information

Alexandria’s low elevation and its proximity to the Potomac River make it susceptible to flooding. Use the information below to prepare yourself for flooding.

Page updated on Aug 9, 2019 at 1:53 PM

Nearly every year, and sometimes several times throughout the year, during periods of heavy rain, strong winds, or quick snow melts, residential and commercial properties are threatened with the potential of tidal, wind-driven, and storm surge flooding from the Potomac River and/or flash flooding from its tributaries. Additional information about flooding in Alexandria, including Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) is available at alexandriava.gov/FloodMap

We encourage residents and business owners to plan for flooding as part of their emergency preparedness.


Low-Interest Federal Loans Available to City of Alexandria Residents and Businesses Impacted by July 8 Flooding

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has announced that the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) will make low-interest disaster loans available to qualifying Alexandria residents and business owners, to help recover from the July 8 storms and flooding. This historic weather event caused significant damage to public facilities, roads, businesses and homes.

Homeowners may be eligible to receive loans of up to $200,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, and homeowners and renters may be eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Loans of up to $2 million are available for businesses and private nonprofit organizations to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets.

Interest rates for loans with terms up to 30 years are as low as 4% for businesses, 2.75% for nonprofit organizations, and 1.938% for homeowners and renters. Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial situation.

On August 13, the SBA will open temporary Disaster Loan Outreach Centers in the area to answer questions about the program and help individuals complete their applications. Residents and business owners may visit any loan outreach center or apply online using the SBA’s secure website

The nearest SBA Disaster Loan Outreach Center locations and operating hours serving the Alexandria community are:

Arlington County Trades Center Parks and Natural Resources Operations Building (2700 S. Taylor St.)

  • August 13: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

  • August 14: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

  • August 15: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

  • August 16: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

  • August 17: 9 a.m.-1 p.m.

  • August 18: CLOSED

  • August 19: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 

Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library (7584 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church)

  • August 13: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

  • August 14: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

  • August 15: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

  • August 16: 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

  • August 17: 1-5 p.m.

  • August 18: CLOSED

  • August 19: 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Applications may also be downloaded and printed by visiting SBA Disaster Loan Fact Sheets. For frequently asked questions, visit SBA Disaster Loan FAQs.  

Completed printed applications should be returned to the center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center (14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas 76155).

The filing deadline to return applications for physical property damage is October 7, 2019. The deadline to return economic injury applications is May 7, 2020.

Residents and business owners may contact the SBA Customer Service Center at 1.800.659.2955 (1.800.877.8339 for the hearing impaired) or by email at disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.


City Encourages Residents and Property Owners to Report July 8 Storm Damage

The City is asking residents, businesses and property owners affected by the July 8 storm to report damage online by Friday, July 12. The reports will help the City collect and assess damage to residences and businesses resulting from flash flooding. This historic weather event caused significant damage to public facilities, roads, businesses and homes. City officials continue to work with state and local partners to assess the damage from Monday’s storms. The Alexandria Office of Emergency Management is working with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine what assistance may be available to residents from state and federal programs.

By filing a damage report, residents, businesses and property owners can help Alexandria recover from this severe weather event. While owners are responsible for repairs of their property, the City can use this data to pursue disaster aid from the federal government, to the extent that such aid is available.

  • The period for filing this report closed on Friday, July 12.


Protect Your Home from Sewer Backups

Heavy rains, which typically occur during hurricane season, sometimes cause sewer backups in some parts of Alexandria. The City urges residents to take necessary precautions. With many hours of heavy rain, sewer line may fill up with water and some sewage. Because of this, the sewer system may approach its carrying capacity and may overflow in some areas. It may also back up into homes through floor or plumbing drains.

There are several steps you can take to help prevent sewage backup into your home.

  • Ensure that your back flow preventer, if you have one, is in working order and closed as necessary.
  • Stuff a rag, softball or other material into floor drains to stop the flow into your basement.
  • Cover the drain with a floor mat and weigh it down.
  • Place a heavy object on the closed cover of basement toilets to prevent sewage from backing up.
  • Restrict the use of plumbing as much as possible until rains subside. This includes dish and clothes washers, showers and toilets.
  • Use reasonable precautions to protect yourself from exposure to what may be contaminated water by wearing waterproof boots and gloves.

After the rain stops, if sewage has come through a floor or plumbing drain, open the drain to allow as much water to drain out as possible; use buckets, sump pump or other means to remove as much of the contaminated water as possible.

For more information, call 703.746.4800.


Protect Your Home or Business with Sandbags

When there is a high risk of flooding, the City will often make sandbags available to residents and businesses. For several years, the City of Alexandria’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services (T&ES) has operated a flooding prevention program that included the limited provision of sandbags to affected business and residential areas.

Proper Use of Sandbags 

The use of sandbags is a simple, but effective way to prevent or reduce floodwater damage. Sandbags can act as a barrier to divert moving water around instead of through buildings. Sandbag construction does not, however, guarantee a watertight seal.

  • Remove any debris from the area where bags are to be placed.
  • If tied bags are used, flatten them and flare the tied end. If untied bags are used, fold the open end to form a triangle.
  • To form a sandbag wall, place bags tightly against one another to form the first layer of defense.
  • Place succeeding bags on the folded or flared portion of the previous bag and stamp into place to eliminate gaps and to form a tight seal.
  • Stagger the second and subsequent layers of bags, similar to the pattern of bricks on a wall.
  • Never use bags to build a fortress around your property because this approach can trap water between sandbag walls and structures, causing further damage.

Sandbags: Correct & Incorrect Stacking image 

Do not rely on sandbags alone to protect your property. Use baffle boards (plywood sheeting) or sheets of plastic tarp with sandbags. When the threat of flooding is over, sandbags distributed by the City of Alexandria should be returned to the point of pickup. Please do not dispose of sandbags in normal trash or recycling.   


 Maintain Your Property to Minimize Risk

  • Water can leak into crawl spaces and/or basements through foundation cracks, pipe holes, vents, doors or windows. Also, it can seep between the house siding and foundation sills. Use cement to fill cracks in the foundation, seal openings around pipes with cement or caulk; and seal the joint between siding and foundation with caulk.
  • Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and in working order. Ensure that gutters and downspouts discharge properly into the storm sewer or some distance away from your property.
  • Maintain the grade around your house so that rainwater drains away from the foundation.
  • Consider installing a backup, battery-powered or water-powered sump pump if you rely on a sump pump to keep your house dry, and be sure you understand the limits of the backup pump.
  • Consider investing in a generator or heavy-duty power inverter to cope with extended power outages.

Current Conditions

Water data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Water Information System.

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