WINTER 2007 2008: DECREASING TEMPERATURES, INCREASING FLOOD RISKS FOR WASHINGTON STATE RESIDENTS
Washington, D.C. Winter brings more than just cold temperatures. It also brings an increased flood risk and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is warning residents of Washington to prepare now well ahead of rising waters. This year, predictions for La Nina call for an even wetter-than-average 2007-2008 winter season in parts of the Northwestern United States, including Eastern Washington. The time to prepare for this year's rainy season and possible flooding is now.
Recovering after a flood can be overwhelming. With flood insurance, you have the financial support to get back on your feet as quickly as possible, said David Maurstad, Assistant Administrator of Mitigation and Federal Insurance Administrator for FEMA. Too often, people mistakenly think flood damage is covered by a homeowners policy. Flood coverage must be purchased separately, and there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a new flood insurance policy becomes effective.
Many Washington residents may face an even greater risk of flooding this year due to summer wildfires that burned more than 200,000 acres across the state. After a wildfire, the charred ground where vegetation has burned away cannot easily absorb rainwater, increasing the risk of flooding for a number of years. Properties directly affected by fires and those located below burn areas are most at risk, including properties located outside of high-risk flood areas.
FEMA offers the following tips to prepare for winter flooding:
Before a Flood
- Have a safety kit with drinking water, a first-aid kit, canned food, radio, flashlight and blankets.
- Know safe routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.
- Protect your property. Most homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding. Make sure that your flood insurance policy is up to date.
During a Flood
- If flooding occurs, go to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes etc.
- Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
- Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.
After a Flood
- Do not turn electricity back on in your home if you detect gas or if the electrical system has been flooded.
- Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by floodwaters or mudflows and throw out any such foodstuffs.
- Follow directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.
Flood insurance is available through approximately 90 insurance companies in more than 20,300 participating communities nationwide. Everyone can purchase flood insurance renters, business owners, and homeowners. The average flood insurance policy is around $500 a year. In moderate-to-low 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 visiting FloodSmart.gov or by dialing 1-800-427-2419.
FEMA coordinates the Federal Government role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or manmade, including acts of terrorism.