ALBANY, N.Y. -- As state and federal disaster officials continue to help New York communities recover from weeks of severe storms and flooding, homeowners and businesses are being encouraged to purchase flood insurance to guard against financial loss during future flooding events.
“Flooding is the leading cause of property damage from natural disasters in the country and New York is no exception,” said James W. Tuffey, Director of the New York State Emergency Management Office (SEMO). “In each of the last two years, President Bush has declared federal disasters in parts of New York after heavy rainfall caused widespread flooding.”
Tuffey said SEMO and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are currently partnering to deliver disaster aid authorized by President Bush August 3 for Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Delaware, Erie, Herkimer, Ontario, Saratoga, Schoharie, Steuben, Ulster, Washington and Yates counties, at the request of Governor George E. Pataki.
Under the declaration, local governments and certain non-profit organizations in the counties can apply to be reimbursed for 75 percent of disaster-related costs such as debris removal, emergency protective measures, and repairing, restoring or replacing damaged public facilities. The State of New York contributes an additional 12.5 percent and the applicant is responsible for the remaining 12.5 percent.
“While the disaster aid President Bush has made available will greatly reduce the financial burden localities are facing because of these ongoing storms, homeowners and businesses should be aware that federal disaster assistance is not always available and the best way to protect themselves is to have flood insurance,” Tuffey said.
Nationwide, more than 90 percent of floods are not declared disasters and those victims must have flood insurance to recover their losses, said Ted Monette, federal coordinating officer for the FEMA disaster recovery operation. With only an estimated 10 percent of upstate New Yorkers having flood insurance, the potential for personal losses due to flooding is high, he said.
“With a 26 percent chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a four percent chance of fire, it just makes good sense to purchase flood insurance,” Monette said. “You wouldn’t live in a wood-frame building without fire insurance and you shouldn’t live in a flood-prone area without flood insurance.”
Many residents are not aware that their homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage or loss. To meet this need, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is available to homeowners, renters and businesses in participating cities, towns and villages in New York.
To get more information on NFIP, those interested should visit www.floodsmart.gov and use the interactive website to determine a property’s risk level. After entering a property address, you receive a risk assessment and a list of flood insurance agents in your area.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.