FEMA OFFERS TIPS TO PROTECT PROPERTY AND REDUCE FLOOD RISK DURING SUMMER FLOOD AND HURRICANE SEASON
Washington, D.C. Another active hurricane season is nearly upon us, and FEMA urges consumers to prepare now and protect their home and property against flood damage caused by heavy rains, severe storms and tropical systems. Just two inches of floodwater can destroy drywall, flooring, furniture and electrical systems and replacement or repair costs can easily soar to thousands of dollars. Below are simple steps that will help homeowners, business owners and renters to protect their home and assets from flood water:
- Learn your flood risk: Anywhere it can rain, it can flood; and anywhere it can flood, homes and properties are at risk for flood damage even those located outside of high-risk areas. In fact, one out of every four flood claims comes from a moderate-to-low risk area. Residents can learn their relative flood risk by entering their address at FloodSmart.gov Assess Your Risk. Local insurance agents can also provide flood risk information.
- 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 wait for a flood insurance policy to take effect. Learn more by visiting FloodSmart.gov and www.Fema.gov.
- Conduct a household inventory: 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. For help in conducting a home inventory, visit www.knowyourstuff.org.
- 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 safe deposit box. And don’t forget the household inventory file!
- 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. Visit www.ready.gov for a complete disaster supply checklist.
- 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 phone number.
- Reduce your flood risk through home maintenance or improvements:
- 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 one direction.
- 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.
Flood insurance is affordable and available through about 90 insurance companies in more than 20,200 participating communities nationwide. National Flood Insurance is available to renters, business owners, and homeowners. The average flood insurance policy premium 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 FloodSmart.gov or calling 1-800-427-2419.