Most property owners think they have a handle on whether they have adequate protection against flood damage. To see where you fall, take this simple true-false quiz, then check the responses at the end of the article.
The answers are:
1-False. Floods and flash floods happen in all 50 states. ("Flood" is defined in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP), in part, as: A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from overflow of inland or tidal waters, from unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or from mudflow.)
2-False. Everyone in the United States lives in a floodplain. FEMA defines floodplain as Any land area susceptible to being inundated by floodwaters from any source.
3-False. No, not at all. Federal disaster assistance is typically a loan and must be paid back with interest. Federal flood insurance covers all flood-related damaged according to the terms of your flood policy; it does not need to be repaid. It is not wise to rely on federal assistance to help; these loans are only available if the President formally declares a disaster. [floodsmart faq's]
4- False. Just two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, even SUV's and pick-up trucks. [source: http://www.fema.gov/areyouready/flood.shtm]
5-True. Other common causes are heavy rains, mudflows, tropical storms, fires that remove many acres of timber, and new development that alters natural drainage.
6 - False. Flood damage is not typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy. Flood damage is covered by flood insurance. Contact a reputable flood insurance agent in your area.
7-False. Only property owners in an community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program can buy flood insurance.
8 - False. During the course of a 30-year mortgage, your home has a 26% chance of being damaged by a flood compared to a 9% chance of fire damage. [source: http://www.riema.ri.gov/prevention/floods/faq.php]
9 - True. The average flood insurance policy costs about $1,500.00 per year. The NFIP's Community Rating System can reduce flood insurance premiums by 5-45 percent for the community's property owners, which can be a substantial cost savings.
10 - True. Flood vents can significantly increase a building's structural integrity by equalizing water pressure inside and outside the structure. One government source recommends--when deep flooding is likely--that you allow floodwaters to
flow freely into the basement of your home or flood the basement yourself with clean water. This will prevent structural damage to the foundation and house.
As the National Association of Home Builders Research Center states on its website, "foundation flood vents reduce the chances of the foundation being compromised during flooding." [http://www.toolbase.org/Technology-Inventory/Foundations/foundation-flood-vents]
In fact, "an important objective of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is to protect buildings constructed in floodplains from structural damage caused by flood forces," using various building design criteria. They also address the issue of ensuring that hydrostatic pressure differences not become excessive. [www.fema.gov/pdf/fima/job2.pdf]
The truth is that no one is immune from flood damage. No matter where you live, be aware of possible flood hazards. The National Flood Insurance Program has an invaluable website to help you help communities in flood preparedness and protection: http://na.iiaa.org/BIA/Flood/FEMA-FloodOutreachCD/index.htm
Tips to Remember
1 - Everyone lives in a floodplain.
2 - Most homeowners' policies don't cover flood damage.
3 - No matter what your flood risk is, you can buy flood insurance if your community participates in the NFIP.
4 - Don't wait for federal disaster assistance to help you.
5 - Keep your home compliant with federal regulations by installing flood vents.
6 - There's usually a 30-day waiting period before your new flood insurance policy takes effect.
7 - Buy a separate policy to protect your contents.
This article is not intended to be a substitute for FEMA's comprehensive guidelines. For more information, visit FEMA.gov.
Published by William G. Sykes
William G. Sykes is an inventor, product designer, member of the International Code Council, engineer and patent attorney. He specializes in crawl space and foundation protection products for flood protection, ventilation and encapsulation (flood vents, air vents, doors and fans).