NATIONAL FLOOD SAFETY AWARENESS WEEK MARCH 15-19, 2011
Floods Can Happen Anywhere, Anytime; Evaluate Your Need for Flood Insurance Now
Floods are consistently the most common, costly and deadly natural disaster Americans face each year—ninety percent of all natural disasters in the nation involve flooding and Louisiana residents cannot afford to ignore this threat. National Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 15-19), is a perfect time to consider local flood risks and learn important information about steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. “Louisiana is a net consumer of flood insurance with 27% of households having flood insurance,” said Insurance Commissioner Donelon. “But this does not negate the need for more property owners to purchase flood insurance,” Donelon said.
Floods can happen anywhere, at anytime. National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) statistics show that a home in a high-risk area is three times more likely to be damaged by a flood than a house fire during a 30-year mortgage. As one of the snowiest winter seasons in many years yields to warmer weather and the promise of rain and snowmelt, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) FloodSmart Campaign and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that they are again working together during Flood Safety Awareness Week to raise awareness of the dangers associated with flooding and steps to protect against damage. Year in and year out, floods are the most common, costly and deadly severe weather related disaster in the U.S. NOAA will announce this year’s official spring flood outlook on March 16 and an unusually wet and snowy winter in many communities will likely increase the potential for spring flood events. Both agencies are urging that important measures can–and should–be taken now to ensure safety and financial security, including obtaining flood insurance.
Flooding is not covered in a standard homeowners, renters or business insurance policy and between 20 and 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from low-risk areas. Currently only 29 percent of Louisiana households have flood insurance. So before you’re faced with rising water in your area, the Louisiana Department of Insurance offers this information to help you get smart about your flood insurance options:
A) Many in Louisiana believe that flooding is localized to coastal areas and low lying areas designated as a ‘flood zone.’ However, there are many flood risks to consider including hurricanes, rapid accumulation of rainfall, overflowing rivers and lakes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems and building and development, which can change the natural drainage creating new flood risks.
B) Louisiana is no stranger to flooding. In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused a 15-20 foot storm surge which inundated the coast and, along with the failure and overtopping of levees, flooded 80 percent of New Orleans and damaged 275,000 homes. Katrina took more than 1600 lives and caused over $100 billion in damage. However, Louisiana’s hurricane flood risk is not limited to the coastal regions. As hurricanes move inland and are downgraded to tropical storms they create heavy rainfall which can cause flooding to many areas of the state. But don’t wait until a storm is coming to purchase flood insurance. It may take 30 days after purchase for a flood insurance policy to go into effect.
C) FEMA’s National Flood Insurance program ensures communities across the country have access to affordable flood insurance. The program makes coverage available to renters, homeowners, and business owners through approximately 85 insurance companies in more than 20,800 participating communities nationwide. Flood coverage can be purchased for properties both in, and outside of, the highest risk areas. A quarter of all flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low-risk areas. In these areas, lower cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) can cost as little as $119 a year. Individuals can learn more about seasonal flood risks and what to do to prepare by visiting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) www.FloodSmart.gov Web site, or by calling 1-800-427-2419.