Washington, D.C. -- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA)-sponsored 2007 National Flood Safety
Awareness Week, takes place from March 19-23. Within this week,
Thursday, March 22 is Flood Insurance Day-the perfect time to remind
residents about their flood risks, how to prepare and protect
themselves as winter rainy season ends, and spring thaw, snowmelt,
and hurricane season begins.
According to the NOAA National Weather Service's spring predictions,
the upper Midwest is currently in the middle of its snowmelt. Warmer
than normal temperatures in recent weeks have increased the risk of
flooding due to ice jams over portions of the region.
Flooding is the nation's number one natural disaster, occurring both
inland and on the coast. It's important to note that flash floods,
inland flooding and seasonal storms flood every region of the
country. Twenty to 25 percent of all flood insurance claims are
filed in low-to-moderate flood-risk areas.
Flooding causes damage and destruction across regions
nationwide-wiping out homes, businesses and personal financial
resources. Property owners and renters need to know that they can
take steps to protect their property and financial security before
disaster strikes. However, many eligible residents are unaware that
they qualify or that affordable flood insurance is available.
Residents can begin to take steps now to
protect their home and assets from rising floodwaters at any time.
* Reduce your home's flood risk through home maintenance or
* Make sure gutters and drains are cleared. Clean and maintain storm
drains and gutters and remove debris from your property to allow
free flow of potential floodwater.
* Move valuables and sentimental items to the highest floor of your
home or business.
* Install backflow valves in waste lines to keep water flowing in
* Protect your well from contamination.
* Anchor or elevate fuel tanks and elevate the main breaker or fuse
box and the utility meters above the anticipated flood level in your
home or business, so that floodwater won't damage your utilities.
* Make sure you have the right insurance: Review your insurance
policies and find out what they do and do not cover. Learn the
difference between replacement cost coverage versus standard
coverage, which only pays the actual cash value of insured property.
Be sure that you have enough insurance to cover recent home
renovations or improvements. Know that most homeowners insurance
polices do not cover flood damage, so be sure to consider flood
insurance for both your structure and its contents. There is
typically a 30 day waiting period for a flood insurance policy to
* Learn your flood risk. Properties that are not located within
high-risk areas can also flood. Find out your flood risk right now
by entering your address at
FloodSmart.gov "Assess Your Risk."
Insurance agents can also help check your risk.
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* Purchase a flood insurance policy. If you already have a flood
policy, remember: your policy needs to be renewed each year.
* More than 20,200 communities in all 50 U.S. states and its
territories voluntarily participate in the NFIP, representing about
95 percent of all properties in the nation's high-risk areas.
* Plan for evacuation: Plan and practice a flood evacuation route,
ask someone out of state to be your "family contact" in an
emergency, and make sure everyone knows the contact's address and
* Build an emergency supply kit: Food, bottled water, first aid
supplies, medicines, and a battery-operated radio should be ready to
go when you are.
* Inventory your household possessions: For insurance purposes, be
sure to keep a written and visual (i.e., videotaped or photographed)
record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored
in basements, attics or garages. Create files that include serial
numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics.
Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically
important when filing insurance claims.
* Protect important financial documents: Store copies of
irreplaceable financial and family documents in a safe place,
preferably one that is protected from both fire and water. Documents
include automobile titles, tax records, stock and bond certificates,
deeds, wills, trust agreements, birth and marriage certificates,
photos, passports and insurance policies. Keep originals in a rented
safe deposit box. And don't forget the household inventory file!
NOAA's predictions state that portions of eastern South Dakota,
eastern Iowa, southeastern Minnesota, southern Wisconsin and
northern Illinois are at risk of flooding. In addition, high soil
moisture over northeastern Ohio and northwestern Pennsylvania and
extreme southwestern New York state could lead to flooding if
additional heavy precipitation occurs. Also, there is a flooding
potential for southeast Colorado because the soil moisture is high,
due to the melting of an above normal snowpack, which resulted from
record snowfall in the state in December and January.
Flood insurance is available through nearly 100 insurance companies
in more than 20,200 participating communities nationwide. Everyone
can purchase flood insurance - renters, business owners, and
homeowners. The average flood insurance policy costs around $500 a
year. And in low- to moderate-risk areas, lower-cost Preferred Risk
Policies (PRPs) start at just $112 a year. Individuals can learn
more about their flood risk and how to protect their property by
FloodSmart.gov or by calling 1-800-427-2419.
FEMA manages federal response and recovery efforts following any
national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, works
with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National
Flood Insurance Program. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of
Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.
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