RALEIGH, N.C. -- Homeowners are learning a tough lesson after the devastation of Hurricane Floyd - disaster assistance is not designed to make them whole again. They are learning that the law is designed to help disaster victims recover, not do it for them. Federal and state disaster officials are urging everyone, as they rebuild, to consider flood insurance to protect against future losses.
Officials say that many subscribe to the myth that flood insurance is not necessary because the government aid programs will be available after a major disaster and that the money will be enough to rebuild just like before the flood. Disaster aid programs do help them with a place to stay while they rebuild and a small amount to help rebuild and replace essential items. But the amounts are not nearly enough to deal with the massive losses incurred because of Hurricane Floyd?s floodwaters.
There are only two categories of people who can rebuild just like before the flood -- those who qualify for a low-interest disaster loan and people with flood insurance. And, the disaster loan will likely be on top of a previous mortgage that must still be paid off.
It is this second category of people, those with flood insurance, who will have almost all their losses covered and be able to rebuild their home. These are the people who, for the most part, have already received a settlement from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and can begin the process of rebuilding.
Another important factor to remember is that disaster assistance is only available after widespread destruction and the President declares a major disaster. Smaller, localized flooding, covering only a few blocks, may not qualify as a Presidential disaster but flood insurance will still pay off.
Disaster officials point out that for about the price of a single, monthly mortgage payment, flood insurance can be purchased for an entire year. The average premium for about $100,000 of coverage is about $300 a year. This insurance, underwritten by the United States Government, can be purchased from a local agent - someone you deal with for the rest of your insurance.
Flood insurance just makes good sense, no matter where you live, say disaster officials. Anyone living in a community that participates in the NFIP can purchase flood insurance. They also urge residents not to rely upon local legends that say the flooding cannot happen. Floodwaters do not confine themselves to areas delineated on flood maps - urban development, land management and agricultural practices all can change the course of floodwaters.
Flood insurance is the only answer to those widely changing variables. For a small insurance premium each year, homeowners, renters and business owners can have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that no matter how high the floodwaters rise, they can recover. They can rebuild their home or business without the crippling financial debt that is often associated with such disasters.
Officials say that while we can?t stop the floodwaters from rising, we can keep them from becoming a disaster.