April 28, 2016: An estimated 140 billion gallons of water pour down on Houston’s Cypress Creek, Spring Creek and Adicks watersheds in a mere 14 hours.
“So this is what Noah felt like.” – Many a flood-weary Houston homeowner this spring
This spring, the rain just won’t go away.
From the drenched Eastern Seaboard to the soaked Midwest to Marshy Plains to flood-ravaged Texas and storm-battered Gulf Coast, much of the mainland United States has been swamped by relentless rain that just won’t quit. The poor folks in Houston received an incredible 75 inches of rain from April 18 through May 17, 2016.
Even the fish in the Mississippi River are saying enough already. And millions of storm-weary homes have been taking on all that water, including homes in some regions still reeling from the storms of 2015.
“It seems like the weather gets worse and worse,” Scott Heaps, owner of Clearview Home Remodeling in Baltimore, who is working on storm restoration in Cockeysville dating back to last summer’s storms, told the Baltimore Sun.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advises home, business and property owners in the Midwest to stay on guard against home flooding threats as summer nears. For, as FloodSmart.gov notes, floods are the top natural disaster in the United States. And, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), May is the No. 1 month for flood insurance losses.
“Our assessment of spring flood risk is based in large part on saturated soils and elevated streamflows from the Gulf Coast northward along the Mississippi River, although heavy rainfall at any time can cause local or regional flooding, even in places where the risk is currently considered low,” said Tom Graziano, Ph.D., acting director of NOAA’s National Water Center. “We encourage people to be prepared for the range of spring weather threats, including flooding, and tune into local forecasts to monitor their personal risk.”
According to FloodSmart.gov, total flood insurance claims averaged more than $3.5 billion per year from 2005-14 and the average flood claim amounted to nearly $42,000 from 2010-14.
In Houston alone, the ravishing floods of this past April flooded more than 1,000 homes and left an astonishing cleanup bill of $5 billion.
In Iowa, which ranks eighth nationally in flood claims, 2014 flood claims totaled over $9 million. That number is expected to rise in 2016.
With most standard home insurance policies not covering flooding, it’s important for all homeowners – even those living outside flood plains – to know the extent of flood risk facing their homes. Now more than over, homeowners need to ask themselves if flood insurance is a necessary investment to safeguard their home’s value, livability and future.
The National Flood Insurance Program provides a means for property owners to financially protect themselves. The NFIP offers flood insurance to homeowners, renters and business owners if their community participates in the NFIP. With the NFIP, participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed FEMA requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.
Homeowners can learn the flood threat level of their local communities by entering their zip code at www.FloodSmart.gov.
But as the United States Automotive Administration points out, there is no 100 percent safe high ground from flooding in the USA, not even rain-deprived Death Valley. Nearly 25 percent of the NFIP’s claims come from people with property outside of high-risk flood areas, according to federal estimates.
“Floods can occur anywhere,” said Corise Morrison, executive director of residential markets for USAA. “Low risk does not mean no risk.”
Home owners need to look at their home’s flood risk and their available insurance budgets to decide if home flood insurance is in their best interest. The huge financial risk of having no flood insurance is magnified when we measure the financial damage of what the average home flooding levels bring:
The USAA estimates the average American property loss for these levels of flooding:
6 Inches Of Water: $20,000
2 Feet Of Water: $34,000
4 Feet Of Water: $40,000
On the dry side, home flood insurance offers no-risk, full-proof flood protection. USAA policies run as low as $14 per month and $168 per year.
But 11th hour home flood insurance policies aren’t the answer. Waiting until the day before a major storm puts your home in its crosshairs isn’t an option since most flood coverage plans don’t begin until 30 days after purchase.
Because in these rainy spring days a home flooding threat – no matter how big or small – isn’t a threat you can afford to sit on.