LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- In the months since flooding devastated much of northern and eastern Arkansas, flood insurance policy sales in the state have increased by more than 5 percent, and six communities have either joined or re-entered the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Credit goes to Arkansas homeowners determined to protect their property before the next major flood strikes. The rise in policy sales also results in part from an intensive effort by Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) insurance specialists who made nearly 1,100 visits to Arkansas insurance agents to promote the federal program.
"Every flood insurance policy sold represents a potential savings of about $30,000 in taxpayer dollars during a disaster recovery operation," said Federal Coordinating Officer Nancy M. Casper, who heads FEMA's two current disaster recovery missions in Arkansas. "That's because people who have insurance coverage won't need major government grants."
NFIP-backed policies have other benefits. Policyholders have coverage even in floods that do not result in federal disaster declarations - about half of all floods. "People with insurance tend to recover much faster from the effects of floods, too," said Diana Kidder, a FEMA insurance specialist working in Little Rock.
America's most common natural disaster is flooding. As of May 31, more than 19,660 flood insurance policies were in force in the state. That number has now risen by more than 960. NFIP policies are sold through private insurance agents throughout Arkansas.
Meanwhile, floodplain management specialists met with community officials to promote the NFIP and encourage participation. The result? Five communities joined the FEMA-administered NFIP, while one re-entered the program, enabling residents in all six communities to obtain flood insurance policies. Property owners cannot buy flood insurance unless their communities participate in the program.
"The cost to a community is small when compared to the benefits for all of Arkansas," said State Coordinating Officer David Maxwell of the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management. "Property owners can buy insurance and get federally backed mortgages and communities can qualify for full federal benefits for rebuilding their damaged structures. All of that eases the burden on taxpayers. The whole community wins."
For more information on NFIP or for a list of Arkansas agents who sell flood insurance, consumers can call 1-888-379-9531 or click www.FloodSmart.gov. The insurance agents and specialists at the toll-free number can also provide information on communities that participate in the NFIP and how an individual's property is zoned.
It's important to note that due to the waiting period, NFIP policies become effective 30 days after the premium is paid. They are renewable after one year.
Visit www.fema.gov or www.adem.arkansas.gov for news and information about the current disaster recovery missions. Follow FEMA tweets about the Arkansas disaster at www.twitter.com/femaregion6. Other online resources include blog.fema.gov, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.
Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status.If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-FEMA (3362). For TTY call 800-462-7585.
The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) is the state's homeland security and prep...