AUSTIN, Texas -- Even as much of the state remains in drought conditions, Texans should still consider purchasing flood insurance now.
Following a season of historic wildfires and a continuing drought, the flood risk for Texans is higher because of a loss of trees and other vegetation with healthy roots that soak up rainwater, according to hazard mitigation specialists with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Storm runoff produced during a rain event can cause severe erosion, mudslides and flooding.
A flood insurance policy is the best option for property owners and renters to safeguard their homes and belongings from flood losses. Most flood insurance is written through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA. Due to the waiting period, NFIP policies become effective 30 days after the premium is paid.
"Nobody likes to talk about flood insurance during a drought, but purchasing a policy now will give you some peace of mind should a flood occur," said Kevin L. Hannes, FEMA's Federal Coordinating Officer for the wildfire recovery mission.
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States. Yet, less than half of the floods in the U.S. result in a federal disaster declaration, while NFIP pays claims even if a disaster is not declared, Hannes noted.
A home does not have to be located in a floodplain for damage from flood waters to occur. What’s more, one out of every four claims paid are from areas at medium-to-low risk of flooding, he said.
The NFIP offers flood insurance to property owners and renters in communities that participate in the program. That’s nearly 21,000 communities nationwide, including about 1,000 in Texas. After the late-summer wildfires, FEMA floodplain management specialists met with community officials to encourage participation in the NFIP, and five more communities joined the program.
As of March 9, more than a million flood insurance policies were in force across Texas with a total coverage of more than $254 billion. Since 1978, more than 355,000 claims with a value of more than $8 billion have been filed in Texas. NFIP policies are sold through private insurance agents throughout the state.
Texans can often obtain flood insurance from the agent who handles their homeowners or renters insurance policy, or they can go to the NFIP website at www.floodsmart.gov to get a list of the agents in their area who sell the policies. The interactive website also offers an easy way to get the estimated annual cost of flood insurance for a specific address.
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.?