March 18th, 2007 06:00 EST
National Flood Safety Awareness Week
Washington, D.C. -- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is pleased to support The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)-sponsored 2007 National Flood Safety Awareness Week, which takes place from March 19-23 (http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov/). Within this week, Thursday, March 22 is Flood Insurance Day—the perfect time to remind residents about their flood risks, how to prepare and protect themselves as winter rainy season ends, and spring thaw, snowmelt, and hurricane season begins.
According to the NOAA National Weather Service’s spring predictions, the upper Midwest is currently in the middle of its snowmelt. Warmer than normal temperatures in recent weeks have increased the risk of flooding due to ice jams over portions of the region.
“Flooding is the nation’s number one natural disaster, occurring both inland and on the coast. It’s important to note that flash floods, inland flooding and seasonal storms flood every region of the country,” said David Maurstad, Director of FEMA's Mitigation Division and Federal Insurance Administrator. Twenty to 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas.
Flooding causes damage and destruction across regions nationwide—wiping out homes, businesses and personal financial resources. Property owners and renters need to know that they can take steps to protect their property and financial security before disaster strikes. However, many eligible residents are unaware that they qualify or that affordable flood insurance is available.
Residents can begin to take steps now to protect their home and assets from rising floodwaters at any time.
- Reduce your home’s flood risk through home maintenance or improvements:
- Make sure gutters and drains are cleared. Clean and maintain storm drains and gutters and remove debris from your property to allow free flow of potential floodwater.
- Move valuables and sentimental items to the highest floor of your home or business.
- Install backflow valves in waste lines to keep water flowing in one direction.
- Protect your well from contamination.
- Anchor or elevate fuel tanks and elevate the main breaker or fuse box and the utility meters above the anticipated flood level in your home or business, so that floodwater won’t damage your utilities.
- Make sure you have the right insurance: Review your insurance policies and find out what they do and do not cover. Learn the difference between replacement cost coverage versus standard coverage, which only pays the actual cash value of insured property. Be sure that you have enough insurance to cover recent home renovations or improvements. Know that most homeowners insurance polices do not cover flood damage, so be sure to consider flood insurance for both your structure and its contents. There is typically a 30 day waiting period for a flood insurance policy to take effect. Learn more by visiting www.FloodSmart.gov and www.Fema.gov.
- Learn your flood risk. Properties that are not located within high-risk areas can also flood. Find out your flood risk right now by entering your address at FloodSmart.gov “Assess Your Risk.” Insurance agents can also help check your risk.
- Purchase a flood insurance policy. If you already have a flood policy, remember: your policy needs to be renewed each year.
- More than 20,200 communities in all 50 U.S. states and its territories voluntarily participate in the NFIP, representing about 95 percent of all properties in the nation’s high-risk areas.
- Plan for evacuation: Plan and practice a flood evacuation route, ask someone out of state to be your “family contact” in an emergency, and make sure everyone knows the contact’s address and phone number.
- Build an emergency supply kit: Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines, and a battery-operated radio should be ready to go when you are. Visit www.ready.gov for a complete disaster supply checklist.
- Inventory your household possessions: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed) record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. For help in conducting a home inventory, visit www.knowyourstuff.org.
- Protect important financial documents: Store copies of irreplaceable financial and family documents in a safe place, preferably one that is protected from both fire and water. Documents include automobile titles, tax records, stock and bond certificates, deeds, wills, trust agreements, birth and marriage certificates, photos, passports and insurance policies. Keep originals in a rented safe deposit box. And don’t forget the household inventory file!
NOAA’s predictions state that portions of eastern South Dakota, eastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois are at risk of flooding. In addition, high soil moisture over northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania and extreme southwestern New York state could lead to flooding if additional heavy precipitation occurs. Also, there is a flooding potential for southeast Colorado because the soil moisture is high, due to the melting of an above normal snowpack, which resulted from record snowfall in the state in December and January.
Flood insurance is available through nearly 100 insurance companies in more than 20,200 participating communities nationwide. Everyone can purchase flood insurance – renters, business owners, and homeowners. The average flood insurance policy costs around $500 a year. And in low- to moderate-risk areas, lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) start at just $112 a year. Individuals can learn more about their flood risk and how to protect their property by visiting FloodSmart.gov or by calling 1-800-427-2419.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.
Release Number: HQ-07-029