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Flooding: America's #1 Natural Hazard!

Release date: 
August 16, 2004
Release Number: 

Why Care About Flooding in New Jersey?

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Not counting the damages still being assessed from Hurricane Charley last week in Florida, they've caused more than $7.1 billion in U.S. flood losses in the last 10 years. There is a 26 percent chance of experiencing a flood during the life of a 30-year mortgage, compared to a four percent chance of fire. However, losses due to flooding are not covered under typical homeowner's and business insurance policies.

Causes of Flooding


  • Flash floods result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period.
  • They occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in a few minutes.
  • Flash floods move at very fast speeds and can roll boulders, tear out trees, destroy buildings, and obliterate bridges.
  • Walls of water can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet.

(Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency -

  • Hurricanes and tropical storms cause floods that can create far more damage than high winds.
  • Nor'easters, or extratropical cyclones, also cause flooding and storm surge.
  • Heavy rains, winter storms, and spring thaws bring flooding to river basins.
  • Overburdened or clogged drainage systems lead to property damage both within and outside floodplains.
  • Construction and new development affect natural drainage and create new flood risks.

Why Home and Business Owners Need Flood Insurance

  • Flood Insurance protects you from flood damage.
  • Flood insurance is an important step in protecting your financial investment.
  • The risk is real wherever you are: 25-30 percent of all flood losses occurs in low- to moderate-risk zones.
  • The average flood insurance policy premium costs approximately $411 a year - that's a little more than $1 a day. Lower-cost coverage is available for homes and businesses in low- to moderate-risk zones.

How Can You Determine Your Risk?

Visit! Enter your address and the site will tell you whether your property is in a high risk, moderate risk, or low risk area. FEMA is also undertaking a nationwide initiative to produce new digitized flood maps for hundreds of communities over the next five years. These new maps will reflect continuing changes in floodplains caused by new development and natural forces.

News for Low-Risk Properties: Expanded, Lower-cost Coverage

If a single family home or business is located in a low- to moderate-risk area, the owners may be eligible for the Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). For homeowners, this policy covers both the home or contents and starts at about $112 a year. PRP policies are now available for businesses as well as saving about 30 percent off standard premiums. Contents-only PRP policies are now available for renters. Ask an insurance agent for details.


Last Updated: 
January 3, 2018 - 12:48