Nashville, TN -- More financial help may be available for some Tennesseans whose homes suffered flood damage in May's storms and flooding, state and federal officials said today.
The additional money, part of the National Flood Insurance Program, is to be used to protect property against future flood damage. The program, known as Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage, can pay up to $30,000 to help pay for relocating, demolishing or elevating homes or businesses out of the floodplain.
"Floods cause more than a billion dollars damage every year in the United States," said Michael Bolch, the official in charge of federal recovery operations in Tennessee. "Buying flood insurance is one of the most important things people can do to protect their homes, businesses and possessions. We can't stop floods and storms, but we can prevent them from ruining people financially."
Tennesseans whose property is in the floodplain, who have flood insurance, and whose property was damaged in the May disaster, may qualify for the additional assistance. Property owners may have to take the initiative to get the assistance, or to learn whether they qualify for it.
The ICC program relies on local officials, such as the city or county supervisor of building permits, to determine if a flood-stricken building has either "substantial damage" or "repetitive damage." All flood insurance policies bought or renewed since June of 2000 offer the extra ICC coverage.
- Substantial damage" means damage totals 50 percent or more of the structure's pre-flood market value.
- Repetitive damage" means at least two flood insurance claims have been paid on the same property in the past ten years, in a community that has a provision for repetitive loss in its floodplain management ordinance. The damage for each claim must be 25 percent or more of the structure's market value.
Some communities may not have the records of repetitive damage needed to support a property owner's claim for the additional coverage.
The first step toward getting ICC assistance is to contact local officials, who must determine that the buildings qualify for funding. They can make the finding when a building permit is applied for. The owner's next step is to call the insurance agent to file an ICC claim.
ICC funds can be used to move the building out of the floodplain, to flood-proof non-residential buildings, demolish a damaged building, or elevate the building to or above the flood level adopted by the community. The work must be done in compliance with local building and floodplain ordinances.
"It doesn't make sense to rebuild without making sure the structure will be more disaster-resistant than it was before," said John D. White, state coordinator of the recovery effort. "Flood insurance and this additional coverage will help reduce the toll of future flooding."
Property owners can buy flood insurance through most major insurance companies who sell homeowners' or property insurance, or by calling the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-427-4661.