TOPEKA, Kansas -- The western Kansas storm of Dec. 28-31 caused an estimated $362 million worth of damage, but there’s a possibility of even more damage – the tons of snow and ice it left behind could cause flood damage when the thaw sets in. Spring flooding is always a possibility in the Midwest, and it’s wise to prepare for it.
While we can’t always prevent floods, it is possible to minimize their effect. The surest safeguard is flood insurance, available to homeowners, business owners and renters.
“Planning ahead and preparing our families and homes for what may come is the best way to ensure we protect our loved ones and ourselves from devastating losses,” said Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting, Kansas adjutant general and director of the Kansas Division of Emergency Management.
“No one likes to talk about insurance, but anyone who’s suffered through a flood knows how valuable it is,” said Tom Costello, federal coordinating officer for the recovery from the winter storm. “While there may be federal disaster aid, it will come nowhere near the cost of replacing a home or business – and the aid is only available in a presidentially declared disaster. Disaster assistance is only intended to help you get back on your feet, not to replace what you’ve lost.”
Flood insurance can be especially important for businesses. A fourth of all businesses never reopen after a natural disaster, and floods are the most common disaster throughout the nation. Business owners can learn about flood insurance and flood risk by visiting www.FloodSmart.gov or calling 1-800-427-2419. Policies can cover buildings or their contents, so tenants can protect their investments whether they own their buildings or not.
Flooding is the disaster most likely to strike Americans and their property. During the course of a 30-year mortgage a house has a 26 percent chance of flooding, compared to a 9 percent chance of fire damage. Standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage, as thousands of people have learned after the fact.
“Flood insurance is a good bet for every property owner, in or out of a flood zone,” said Angee Morgan, state coordinating officer for the disaster recovery. “About 20 to 25 percent of flood insurance claims come from areas of low or moderate flood risk. A lot of people don’t buy flood insurance because it isn’t required where they live,” Morgan said. “But look at the numbers. It’s an inexpensive way to protect yourself and your property, especially in low-risk areas.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) answers many flood-related questions at www.floodsmart.gov, the official web site of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA.
FEMA assistance for the Dec. 28-31 winter storm in Kansas is limited to public assistance. FEMA’s public assistance grant program provides assistance to states, local governments, and certain non-profit organizations for repair, replacement or restoration of disaster-damaged publicly owned facilities and facilities of qualified non-profit organizations. FEMA pays 75 percent of eligible costs. The grantee (usually the state) determines how the non-federal share is split with the eligible applicants.
FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.