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Harrisburg area Cumberland, Dauphin, and Perry Counties
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Old 01-20-2014, 09:00 AM
 
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I'm considering moving to either Dauphin or Cumberland Counties, love the areas close to water but of course am concerned about flooding. Are there certain areas known to flood regularly? I tried the flood website thingy but couldn't understand a thing. Looking for a nice view, low housing prices, peaceful community (fairly rural is fine). Just don't want to panic every time rain is in the forecast.
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Old 01-20-2014, 10:45 AM
 
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Yes there are flood zones, and flood waters reach higher than you might think. (And yes I've noticed that the FEMA website just got overhauled, apparently by people who must not have been good enough for healthcare.gov.) The low dams on the Susquehanna River do basically nothing for flood control. There are very good reasons why there are high bridges over the Paxton Creek/Cameron St. valley connecting Allison Hill to the Capitol Complex - and also why some of the newer office buildings on Front Street have supports and parking on ground floor and offices starting on 2nd floor and up.

There are likely very few properties fronting on a river or creek hereabouts that are NOT in a flood zone. The only reasonable possibilities might be if you are up on a very high bank with a low bank on the other side - a few homes on Fiddlers Elbow Rd in Derry Twp just south of Hummelstown are in this more favorable situation, but others only seemingly slightly lower did get hit in 2011.

One rule of thumb around here (with limitations as with any rule of thumb) is that if you are lower than the railroad tracks, you are likely in a flood zone. For the former Pennsylvania Railroad lines, that's by design - their structures (including the Rockville Bridge) were rebuilt in the 15 years following the 1889 flood, by people who were working for what was then the world's largest corporation. (1889 was "the big one", or in government terms "flood estimated outside period of record," even on Juniata River - it wasn't just Johnstown.)

The Shipoke neighborhood of Harrisburg is the local news poster child for relatively frequent floods. Midtown and uptown are really spotty block by block due to relatively small elevation changes. The Governor's mansion has had to be sandbagged a couple of times.

Do, definitely work through the web site problems to check particular properties you are interested in. If looking at some of the smaller streams also use your head, as the floodplain limits were drawn with less care in the "Zone A" areas compared to "Zone AE".
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Old 01-23-2014, 04:03 PM
 
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Timely local news story germane to this thread: As flood insurance gets more expensive, experts predict lower home values, fewer sales, more foreclosures | PennLive.com
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Old 01-24-2014, 05:15 PM
 
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Thanks for that link, ki0eh. I'm really thinking of looking more northwest or possibly Berks or the far reaches of Chester Counties or somewhere not so close to water. The idea of flooding freaks me right out.
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Old 01-24-2014, 06:08 PM
 
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At least flooding is a relatively knowable hazard (at least, when the website works). Berks and Chester counties have flood zones too. I have heard that Dauphin County has at least 2 boroughs with no flood zones at all, and the largest borough by land area (Gratz) has no houses in flood zones.
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