by Lee dePalo
The old saying is that April showers bring May flowers. Well, in FEMA Region VIII we have learned that March snowfall can bring April, May or even June flooding. The recent heavy snows have left considerable snowpack both in the Rocky Mountains and across the plains. Individuals and communities must prepare for potential flooding.
For individuals, first and foremost this means reviewing your insurance policies and talking with your agent. Most traditional homeowner’s insurance policies do not provide coverage for flooding. Those interested in purchasing a flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program should act quickly, as there is a 30-day waiting period for a policy to become effective. Insurance is your best protection against the damage a flood can inflict.
Beyond purchasing flood insurance, you can take precautions such as moving valuables to a higher space within the home or even temporarily relocating them to another location. You also should have a safe place for important papers like legal documents, identification and insurance papers so that you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate.
You may not think you need to worry about the threat of flooding, but history has shown us that more than a quarter of flood insurance claims have come from outside what are designated as high-risk areas on flood maps. And, recent wildfires increase the threat. Burn scars are missing vegetation and the soil cannot absorb snowmelt or rainfall as easily, putting areas downstream at risk. In addition, there are types of flood risks that aren’t displayed on flood maps, such as flooding caused by heavy rain events or broken water mains.
We at FEMA will be closely monitoring the weather for the upcoming weeks and months and maintaining contact with our state, tribal and local partners as the flood threat evolves. You can do your part by protecting yourself and your family against the flood threat, following directions of local officials should a flood occur, and ensuring your friends and neighbors also are prepared. Taking small actions now can mean you don’t face a difficult recovery later. Flooding can destroy property, but it doesn’t have to destroy communities.
In November 2017, Lee dePalo was named as the Regional Administrator for FEMA Region VIII, which serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming along with the 28 federally recognized Tribal Nations located within those states.