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Washington, D.C., – One month from the beginning of the 2006 Hurricane Season, R. David Paulison, Acting Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, urges Americans to prepare their homes and businesses for the flood risks associated with what promises to be another very active storm season. Flood insurance is a critical investment to help protect against the devastating effects of flooding, but the time to act is now; there is typically a 30-day wait before a 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, 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 everyone can take precautions to lessen their vulnerability to flooding," said Paulison. "One of the most important lessons learned from the 2004 and 2005 Hurricane Seasons is that homeowners insurance does not cover damage caused by floods – a flood insurance policy is the only way to financially protect your property."

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 property no matter where you live," said David Maurstad, Federal Insurance Administrator and Director of FEMA's Mitigation Division. "However, all homeowners, renters, and businesses located in the Nation's high-risk areas, known as Special Flood Hazard Areas, simply must be insured against flood."

Flood insurance is affordable and available through nearly 100 insurance companies in more than 21,000 participating communities nationwide. Everyone can purchase flood insurance – renters, business owners, and homeowners. The average flood insurance policy is around $500 a year. And in moderate-to-low risk areas, homeowners can protect their properties with lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) that start at just $112 a year. Individuals can learn more about their flood risk by visiting or calling 1-800-427-2419.

Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 20 feet high.
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For flood insurance rating purposes, a primary residence is a building that will be lived in by the insured or the insured's spouse for at least 80 percent of the 365 days following the policy effective date. If the building will be lived in for less than 80 percent of the policy year, it is considered to be a non-primary residence.

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