FRANKFORT, Ky. -- Flooding is Kentucky's most costly natural disaster. After a major flood, houses and businesses have been washed off their foundations; curbs are piled high with rotting furniture, clothing, appliances, carpeting, and other possessions waiting to be hauled to the landfill; rampant mold and mildew are destroying dry wall and ceilings; homes and offices stand gray and empty.
Yet in the midst of this devastation, some survivors have relative peace of mind about their future. They have the money to rebuild, repair and replace. It comes to them quickly, enabling them to recover and move on with their lives with the least possible financial stress and anxiety. They can do this because they bought flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
For those without flood insurance, the path to recovery can be extremely challenging. Most will need to borrow to repair the damage. Rather than moving on to a new start, the uninsured individual, family or business is liable to be hemmed in for years by debt payments. Many businesses will be unable to re-open.
"With the frequency of flooding in Kentucky, many more Kentuckians would benefit from buying flood insurance," said Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Director Brig. Gen. John W. Heltzel. "We have more than 89,000 miles of rivers and streams and rainfall that averages 40 to 50 inches a year. Unfortunately, many property owners and even insurance agents don't know enough about flooding risks and the advantages and peace of mind that NFIP flood insurance brings."
In the wake of Kentucky's most recent flooding disaster last May, flood insurance specialists from the NFIP, which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), have fanned out across the commonwealth for a wide ranging flood insurance outreach. They have met with Commonwealth Insurance Commissioner Sharon P. Clark and other commonwealth officials and are continuing to meet with Kentucky insurance agents.
"We are grateful for the interest in and support for education and training about NFIP flood insurance from Commissioner Clark and her staff," said FEMA Federal Coordinating Officer Kim Kadesch.
FEMA has been providing information about NFIP flood insurance at outreach centers in Lowe's stores, where more than 19,000 Kentuckians have stopped by. In addition the NFIP has set up a dedicated Kentucky telephone hotline-877-444-1297-to assist anyone with flood insurance questions and concerns.
NFIP specialists will hold two public meetings for all stakeholders to increase their knowledge of flood insurance: Friday, July 24, 1 p.m. at Big Sandy Area Development District, 110 Resource Court, Prestonsburg, and Tuesday, July 28 at 2 p.m. at Kentucky River Area Development District,
917 Perry Park Road, Hazard. Agents, local officials, lenders, realtors, business owners and homeowners are all cordially invited to attend. Although the NFIP is a national program, flood insurance policies are sold by local insurance agents.
As NFIP specialists talk with Kentuckians they find many misconceptions about flood insurance. For example, there have been so many federally declared flooding disasters in Kentucky that some people may mistakenly believe they can wait on a FEMA grant to pay for repairs and don't need insurance.
In fact, most floods do not result in a federal disaster declaration which means no FEMA grants are available. If there is a federal disaster, flood survivors may get help from a FEMA grant, but these grants are limited. Typically, they fund only basic repairs and only to the parts of a home that are deemed to be necessary living space.
The average FEMA grant to individuals with losses from the May floods is about $4,500. Flood insurance, on the other hand, can take care of all covered building losses up to $250,000 for homeowners and $500,000 for businesses. Contents ...