Almost any homeowner can be at risk for flood damage to their home or contents. If you live in or near a flood plain, you are at greater risk for flood damage, but water can enter your home for many reasons. If you’re in neighborhood that is miles from a flood plain, but the sewer or drainage system is blocked from debris or construction materials, you could be at risk if your area receives heavy rain. And FEMA flood maps are not always up to date. Some studies suggest that up to 75% of the homes flooded in Houston after Hurricane Harvey were outside the 100-year floodplain.
That means that it might be a good idea to consider flood insurance, even if your home is not required to carry it. Most homeowners policies exclude coverage for flood damage. And many people think that you must live in a flood plain to be eligible for flood insurance. The truth is that homeowners outside of a flood plain are eligible to purchase a preferred policy with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
The first step is knowing the likelihood of flooding in your area. FEMA offers online maps; visit their portal to see if you’re in or near a flood plain. If you live outside of a high-risk flood area, you can purchase a Preferred Risk Policy. Velocity Risk Underwriters does not offer flood insurance, but your local agent may be able to provide you the coverage you need. If not, check the FEMA site for a local agent.
If you are in a high risk area, you should create a family disaster plan to make sure you’re ready before the water begins to rise. Below are some steps to consider before during and after the flood.
Prepare in advance for a flood:
- Establish a family disaster plan.
- Plan for and know your evacuation route.
- Notify family and friends of any evacuation plans.
- Have supplies (water, dry foods, medications, flashlights, batteries, etc.) ready in advance of a flood.
- Check to make sure you have coverage for flood insurance; most homeowners policy exclude flood damage.
- Create an itemized list of your personal property. Take photos or videos of the interior and exterior of your home.
- Keep important documents and any valuable items in a waterproof container or safe deposit box. Obtain digital copies, if available.
- Protect your property.
- If flooding is imminent, move items to an elevated area within your home.
- If directed, turn off utilities at the main breaker.
During a flood:
- Listen to NWS, NOAA or local alerting systems for emergency information and instructions.
- Adhere to evacuation orders.
- If flooding occurs, get to higher ground.
- Do not walk or drive through flood areas. Never drive through barricades.
- Be smart: “Turn Around Don’t Drown”
- Avoid contact with floodwaters, if possible.
After a flood:
- Listen to local authorities instructions.
- Never come in contact with live electrical equipment in wet areas.
- Be cautious of snakes or animals that may seek refuge in your home.
- Wear safety gear (gloves, boots, etc.) when cleaning up after a flood.
- For health and safety, sanitize yourself and any items that come in contact with flood waters.
- Contact your insurance company if you have flood damage.
Important flood websites:
- NWS AHPS: https://water.weather.gov/ahps/
- Flood Safety Awareness: https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood
- TADD: https://www.weather.gov/safety/flood-turn-around-dont-drown
- NWS: https://www.weather.gov