CALL TO ACTION: BUSINESSES NEED TO PREPARE NOW FOR THE RISK OF DAMAGING FLOODS AS THE 30-DAY COUNTDOWN TO THE 2006 HURRICANE SEASON BEGINS TODAY
Washington, D.C., All business owners are urged to prepare their businesses for flood risks associated with what promises to be another very active storm season. Just one month from the beginning of the 2006 Hurricane Season, R. David Paulison, Acting Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said business owners should take steps now to protect their property against flooding. Adequate insurance is one of the best ways, he said. There is typically a 30-day wait before a flood insurance policy takes effect.
The 2005 hurricane season (June 1 - November 30) caused the largest flood disaster in our Nation's history and was the costliest storm season on record; the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) paid flood insurance policyholders more than $15 billion to recover from storm damage. However, after witnessing the devastation of last year's storms in clear view, many people across the U.S. still unknowingly lack adequate protection from flood damage. Only 50 percent of property owners who suffered flood damage from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were insured through the NFIP, leaving many hurricane victims to absorb the financial losses on their own or seek limited funding from other sources.
"Natural disasters are unpredictable but business owners can take precautions to lessen their vulnerability to flooding," said Paulison. "One of the most important lessons that many learned from the 2004 and 2005 Hurricane Seasons is that flood insurance is the only way to financially protect your business from flood damage."
Scientists predict that warmer waters in the Atlantic will continue to cause even stronger hurricanes, and that those storms will likely affect not only the Gulf Coast and Mid-Atlantic areas, but states in the Northeast and Midwest, as well. The largest amounts of rainfall from hurricanes are usually produced by slow moving tropical storms that stall over an inland area. Recent tropical storms such as Allison, Isabel and Frances have caused flood damage as far north as Pennsylvania and New York and as far inland as the Ohio Valley.
"Floodwaters do not stop at coastlines and floodplain boundaries; everyone is at risk. It is important to protect your business property no matter where you live or work," said David Maurstad, Federal Insurance Administrator and Director of FEMA's Mitigation Division.
The NFIP offers the following suggestions to make your business FloodSmart before the next storm hits:
- There is typically a 30-day waiting period to get flood insurance. Learn your risk and act now.
- Call your insurance agent to make sure that your flood insurance policy is up to date.
- Inventory and photograph the property in your office.
- Store important documents in a safe, elevated, and waterproof space.
- Plan for a secondary location in advance so your can stay in business without shutting your doors.
- Create an emergency communications plan so all employees are accounted for and know what to do.
Flood insurance is affordable and available through nearly 100 insurance companies in more than 21,000 participating communities nationwide. To learn more about your flooding risk and how to protect yourself and your business, visit the NFIP Web site, www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419.