Lacey, Wash. -- "I didn't think I could get flood insurance" is an all-too-familiar statement to Calvin Camp of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
I have heard uninsured disaster victims say the same thing on literally every flood I have ever worked," said Camp, an expert on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). "Sadly those people have almost always been misinformed."
With spring on its way, the threat of flooding once again looms over Washington State. Flooding in December was serious enough to warrant a presidential disaster declaration. So what can individuals and families do to prepare? Buy flood insurance.
The NFIP is a federal program administered by FEMA, but policies are sold by neighborhood insurance agents. With very few exceptions, flood insurance is available to everyone who lives in a community that participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, including renters and condo owners.
Even people living outside the flood plain, in low-to-moderate flood risk areas, are advised to have flood insurance, because almost 25 percent of NFIP claims come from outside high-flood-risk areas.
Officials stress that FEMA can only offer financial assistance to victims in the event of a presidential disaster declaration. The majority of floods are not extensive enough to warrant such a declaration. An NFIP flood policy pays off whether there is a declaration or not. With the average annual cost of a policy around $400, a year's worth of flood insurance can be less expensive than one month's car payment.
"If your agent does not sell flood insurance, call the NFIP and we'll find you an agent who will," said Camp. "The one caveat is most policies don't go into affect until thirty days after purchase. Buying flood insurance now is smart planning for the future."
That NFIP agent referral number is 1-888-435-6637. More information about the NFIP and agent referrals is available online at www.floodsmart.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.