Hurricane Florence is not your average storm. As it will undoubtedly devastate the area where it makes landfall, it will also wreak havoc along the east coast. Some are already calling it a historic storm.
Flooding is expected not just along the coast, but also well into the mainland due to heavy rains. Even Montgomery County is bracing for persistent heavy rain.
In its aftermath, Hurricane Florence will be another reminder for Congress to act on a long-term reform of the National Flood Insurance Program.
The National Flood Insurance Program was created 1968 as a result of the aftermath of hurricane Betsy. After the 1965 hurricane ravaged the gulf coast, Congress realized that flood insurance should be affordable and widely available to home owners, tenants, and businesses.
The National Flood Insurance Program provides coverage associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, and heavy rains. Like other Federal programs, Congress funds the program.
However, in recent years, Congress has appropriated short term extensions for the program. The current extension provides funding through November.
National Association of Realtors President Elizabeth Mendenhall, issued a statement regarding the impending storm and a plea to Congress to act on reforming the National Flood Insurance Plan.
Mendenhall stated in the Sept. 11 press release that there are an estimated 750,000 homes at risk from a coastal storm surge. Furthermore, there is the potential of an estimated $170 billion of property damage just in the Carolinas and Virginia (nar.realtor).
Representing the National Association of Realtors, Mendenhall urges Congress to pass a long-term National Flood Insurance Plan by pointing out that “Flooding is the most common disaster in the United States, one that affects Americans in communities both coastal and inland every year.”
She is correct to say, “In these times, we are reminded of the importance of peace of mind for property owners with access to quality and affordable flood insurance.”
FEMA’s Flood Smart (floodsmart.gov) portal is where you can find more information about flood insurance and protecting your home before and after a flood.
Before a storm like Florence, you can reduce your risk by preparing. FEMA offers suggestions for flood prepping, which includes (but not limited to): elevating critical utilities; ensuring your sump pump is working and has a battery back-up; install a water alarm in your basement; clear debris from gutters and down spouts; store irreplaceable documents (such as birth certificates, passports, etc.) in a safe, dry place; and of course, build an emergency supply kit that is ready to go when you are. Your emergency kit should minimally include non-perishable food, bottled water, first aid, medicines and a battery-operated radio.
Ready.gov has checklists and additional preparedness information, including building your emergency supply kit.
It’s also recommended to make an inventory of your valuables so as to make filing insurance claims easier. Additionally, know your flood risk level by checking FEMA’s interactive map (msc.fema.gov/portal/search).
FEMA warns homeowners that regardless of your risk zone, flood insurance may be a necessary add-on to your homeowners’ insurance policy.
Even if you live in low or moderate flood risk area, you are five times more likely to experience a flood in your home than a fire.
Don’t assume your homeowners’ insurance policy covers flood damage. Even if you have a flood rider, your coverage may be limited.
Review your policy with your insurance agent to determine if you have flood coverage as well as its limitations.