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Preparing for Flood Damage

Floods have the potential to destroy homes and endanger lives in low-level communities across the United States. If you live near a body of water and face the danger of flooding in wet seasons, reduce the risk by preparing for this natural disaster. Study your flood insurance coverage for any details you would like to adjust, and create an emergency plan in case a flood catches you and your family unaware.

Flood Insurance

First, remember that flood insurance may be mandatory in your area. Every several years the federal government creates new flood maps that pinpoint high-risk areas. If you live in one of those areas, you must purchase flood insurance. If you already own a house, you should receive notification if maps change and insurance is suddenly required. In this case, you have the option to choose the Preferred Risk Policy for two years, a low-cost program which is the government’s way of apologizing for the change. If you live in a moderate-risk flood area, there may also be a chance that lenders will still require you to purchase flood insurance when you buy a house. Fortunately, the Preferred Risk Policy also applies in these cases, and costs are typically rolled into your mortgage.

The National Flood Insurance Policy is the U.S.-wide flood insurance option offered on a community-by-community basis. The policy is divided into building, contents, and replacement cost coverage. However, within this inclusive policy are a number of different option you can choose for protection types and amounts. For example, rules required you to cover the foundation elements of your house and the equipment that is considered part of the structure, like a furnace and a water heater. But you can also choose to purchase content coverage of freezers, washers, and other appliances you might keep inside your basement.

You may recognize this set-up as related to ordinary homeowners insurance, and there are similarities. The base policy is required, but after that the amounts and items covered can be adjusted. You can have up $100,000 for contents coverage and $1,000 in loss avoidance. If you have a one-to-four family size structure, the structural coverage limits can go as high as $250,000. For business structures, structure limits are extended to $500,000. In high-risk areas, families can sometimes received an additional $30,000 to make flood-resistant improvements to their houses. A final note – most flood insurance takes at least a month to be processed. Do not wait until floods look likely to buy your policy. Prepare well ahead of time.

Flood Preparation

Creating an emergency plan for unexpected floods can save your property and family when floods arrive. Flood sensors on rivers and in your own basement can provide time to react, but you must have plans made beforehand as well. Keep in mind key points such as :

  • Safety kits: A good safety kit will have drinking water, canned food, first aid materials, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight. These are just the basics – consider adding flood-specific items like rubber boots, waterproof gloves, and insect repellent as well.
  • House preparation: If you have time, raise all your electronics a foot above the projected flood elevation of your house. When in doubt, put everything on the highest shelves or second level. If you have lots of time, do the same for major appliances, or at least unplug them. If possible, shut off gas and water pipes, and turn your freezer to the coldest temperature.
  • Waterproofing kit: Keep a waterproof container with insurance policy and home contents information, along with other important legal information.
  • An evacuation plan: Find a route outside to your house or workplace. Assign individual roles to family members to make sure older family members are supported, toddlers are carried, and pets are included in the evacuation. Contact local authorities if you have family with disabilities – they will be able to provide emergency assistance. Always choose higher roads away from water sources when making an escape route.
  • A place to stay: Have a distant relative or friend out of the area you can stay with. If you go to an emergency shelter, find a separate location designed for pets (which are not allowed in official shelters).
  • A portable radio. Always listen to emergency radio or TV broadcasts, which will have specific information for your area. Sometimes you will be ordered to not evacuate because of road damage or other conditions. Receiving these updates is vital.

Flood Resources for Further Preparation: CDC: Emergency Preparedness and Response FEMA: Floods Floodsmart: Preparation and Recovery FEMA: Homeowners with Flood Insurance Should File Claims for Damages

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