CLINTON, Miss. -- The National Flood Insurance Program is a real asset for Americans living near the mighty Mississippi River as it crests to a record-level. Since the devastating floods of 1927 and 1937, Congress has poured billions of dollars into a system of levees and spillways, and subsidized flood insurance programs to help protect thousands of residents and businesses along the Mississippi.
Congress created the National Flood Insurance Program in 1968, designed to provide assistance to people living in flood plains. Tens of millions of Americans live on flood plains. Since then, the federal government has paid out billions through the program and more in post-disaster relief.
“Flood insurance is easy to get. The only requirement is that you live in a participating community or a participating county for rural residents,” said Mike Womack, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. “I encourage everyone, even if you think you are protected by a levee to get insurance. There is always a chance of flash flooding or levee failure.”
Despite flooding being the nation's number one natural disaster, statistics continue to show that most people ignore the risks associated flooding and do not purchase flood insurance. “Many families assume that a homeowner’s insurance policy covers flooding, but it usually does not,” said Terry L. Quarles, FEMA federal coordinating officer. “There are a lot of misconceptions about flood insurance.”
Currently only 6,147 policies are in force in the 14 Mississippi counties along the Mississippi River and its tributaries which were declared a major disaster by President Obama on May 11.
Residents of Mississippi should know that not all flood damage qualifies for federal assistance. The President has to declare a major disaster first and federal disaster assistance only provides enough help for people to get a start on rebuilding. Flood insurance purchased through the NFIP program is available to homeowners, business owners and renters as long as they live in an NFIP participating community.
In an effort to bridge the gap that exists between the high rate of flooding events and the low percentage of flood insurance policies, FEMA is urging Mississippi residents to buy flood insurance now. For more information on flooding and flood insurance, visit www.floodsmart.gov.
All Mississippi counties designated for disaster assistance are participating in the National Flood Program. That means properties in unincorporated areas of those counties can buy flood insurance.
Disaster assistance counties participating in NFIP are Adams, Alcorn, Attala, Bolivar, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clarke, Claiborne, Clay, Coahoma, DeSoto, Greene, Grenada, Hinds, Humphreys, Holmes, Issaquena, Jasper, Jefferson, Kemper, Lafayette, Leflore, Marshall, Monroe, Montgomery, Neshoba, Newton, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Smith, Sunflower, Tishomingo, Tunica, Warren, Washington, Webster, Wilkinson, Winston and Yazoo.
Cities and towns within those counties also need to participate to enable their occupants to buy flood insurance. Otherwise, their residents will not be able to buy flood insurance.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.