PORTSMOUTH, N.H. -- There are steps you can - and should - take now to prepare for the next flood. First, you should be fully aware of your flood risk and work with your community on what you and your neighbors can do to lessen losses from flooding. In your home, you can take simple steps to protect property and more involved measures to lessen the impact on the structure. One of the best things you can do to prepare for flooding is to buy flood insurance.
You can purchase flood insurance if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and 83 percent of New Hampshire communities do. To buy a flood insurance policy, contact your local agent or find an agent online at www.floodsmart.gov or by calling 1-800-427-2419. Policies for building and contents (personal property) coverage can be purchased separately and there is normally a 30-day waiting period when buying a new policy.
The cost of a policy depends on a number of variables, most important of which is whether you live in a low- to moderate-risk or high-risk area. Flood maps are used to locate a property within a particular flood zone. You can contact your local floodplain management officials to view local flood maps, or obtain a copy of the current map at www.msc.fema.gov. If you live in a low-to moderate risk area, you may be eligible for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy, which can start as low as $112 a year.
Another consideration in determining the cost of a policy is if the community has earned a rating in the NFIP's Community Rating System (CRS). CRS is a voluntary incentive program that recognizes and encourages community floodplain management activities that exceed the minimum NFIP requirements. Flood insurance premium rates are discounted to reflect the reduced flood risk.
There are five communities in New Hampshire receiving flood insurance premium discounts based on their implementation of local mitigation, outreach and educational activities that go well beyond minimum NFIP requirements. Contact your local officials to see what your community is doing to reduce flood risk. Not only will these actions reduce flood insurance premiums, but save lives and reduce property damage.
In your own home, mitigation measures can be implemented to reduce flood losses. Such measures ought to include elevating the furnace, water heater and other appliances, installing sewer backflow valves to prevent sewer backup, and dry floodproofing your house by applying a waterproof coating or membrane to the exterior walls of the building and sealing walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage. Additional ways to lessen the impact of floods can be found at www.fema.gov/mitigation/protect-your-property.
Other helpful measures to take that will better prepare you for a flood or other disaster include:
- Plan for evacuation;
- Move important objects and papers to a safe place where they can't get damaged;
- Conduct a thorough home inventory - documenting your belongings will help you file your flood insurance claim;
- Build an emergency supply kit; see how to at www.ready.gov.
FEMA coordinates the federal government's role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.