CLINTON, Miss. – Slow-moving Hurricane Isaac sat on the Mississippi coast for two days dumping rain, totaling up to 20 inches in places, and battering coastal areas with a 10-foot storm surge. Rivers reached near-historic flood levels. Flooding damaged or destroyed nearly 3,000 homes, according to state officials.
“Flooding is the most common disaster we see in our state each year,” said Mississippi Emergency Management Agency State Coordinating Officer Bill Brown. “Many who flooded during Isaac were not in high-risk flood zones. Having a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program won’t keep the water out of your house, but it will protect the investment you have in it.”
Flood insurance is important regardless of your flood zone. In fact, people outside high-risk areas file more than 20 percent of NFIP claims. In Mississippi, 86,000 households have flood insurance. About 39,000 of those policies were bought by consumers living outside a high risk flood zone.
“Here are two important points people need to understand. First, homeowners’ policies do not cover flooding. Second, flood insurance policyholders can file a claim for flood damage even if a storm doesn’t trigger a federal disaster declaration,” said Terry L. Quarles, FEMA’s federal coordinating officer. “Flood insurance is available to homeowners, business owners and renters in communities that participate in the NFIP and enforce their local flood damage prevention ordinances.”
By law, federally regulated or insured mortgage lenders require flood insurance on properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding, called special flood hazard areas. An interactive guide to determine your flood risk is available online at FloodSmart.gov.
Flood insurance, with the average premium running about $600 per year, can save homeowners thousands of dollars in repairs. Just 3 inches of floodwater in a home will require replacing drywall, baseboards, carpet, furniture and other necessary repairs can cost an estimated $22,590.
The deeper the floodwater, the more it will cost – 24 inches of water means repairs to the electrical system and the heating and cooling system. It also means replacement of doors, appliances and cabinetry, which could add another $40,000 to the bill.
Homeowners can insure their homes for up to $250,000 and contents for up to $100,000. Renters can cover their belongings for up to $100,000. Nonresidential property owners can insure a building and its contents for up to $500,000 each.
There is normally a 30-day waiting period when purchasing a new policy so now is the time to get your policy, before the next disaster strikes. The NFIP is administered by FEMA, which works closely with nearly 90 private insurance companies to offer flood insurance to property owners and renters.
NFIP policies can be purchased from state licensed property and casualty insurance agents who already deal with other property insurance needs. NFIP can also put people in touch with agents. Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information about flood insurance and to locate a local agent.
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.