MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- With less than one month remaining until the beginning of the 2006 Hurricane Season, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency urge Alabamians to prepare their homes and businesses for the flood risks associated with what promises to be another very active storm season. Flood insurance is a critical investment to help protect against the devastating effects of flooding, but the time to act is now; there is typically a 30-day wait before a policy takes effect.
The 2005 hurricane season (June 1 – November 30) caused the largest flood disaster in our Nation’s history and was the costliest storm season on record; the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid flood insurance policyholders more than $15 billion to recover from storm damage, including $252 million for policyholders in Alabama. However, after witnessing the devastation of last year’s storms, many people across the U.S. still unknowingly lack adequate protection from flood damage. Only 50 percent of property owners who suffered flood damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were insured through the NFIP, leaving many hurricane victims to absorb the financial losses on their own or seek limited funding from other sources.
“Now is the time to buy flood insurance if you live in an area that is prone to flooding. You may not know when and where disasters will happen, but you can take precautions to lessen the lasting effects of them,” said David Maurstad, Federal Insurance Administrator and Director of FEMA’s Mitigation Division. “Homeowners insurance will not always cover damage caused by floods – a flood insurance policy is the only way to financially protect your property.”
Everyone can purchase flood insurance – renters, homeowners and businesses. The average flood insurance premium is around $500 a year. And in low- to moderate-risk areas, homeowners can protect their properties with lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at just $112 a year. Flood insurance is affordable and available through nearly 100 insurance companies in more than 21,000 participating communities nationwide.
“Floodwaters do not stop at coastlines and floodplain boundaries; everyone is at risk. It is important to protect your property no matter where you live,” added Maurstad. “However, all homeowners, renters, and businesses located in the Nation’s high-risk areas, known as Special Flood Hazard Areas, simply must be insured against flooding.”
Individuals can learn more about their flood risk by visiting www.FloodSmart.gov or calling 800-427-2419.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.