Texas can’t seem to catch a break. Early last year the Lone Star State was suffering through a crippling drought, with lakes and riverbeds drying up, water reservoirs depleted, and no relief in sight. But a growing El Niño soon changed all that, bringing four weeks of storms in May and more torrential rains in October and November.
The rains ended the state’s four-year water shortage, but major floods swept away roads, property, and lives, leaving entire neighborhoods under water and massive destruction in their wake. It’s not exactly a new problem for Texans – the state regularly has the highest rate of property damage and fatalities from floods, sometimes getting world record rainfalls.
What if it happens to you?
Think about it. If your home and everything you own were suddenly swept away in a devastating flood, or even if your property was left standing in three feet of water, how long would it take to get your lives back on solid ground? It depends on how well you’ve prepared – and that means having a solid action plan and solid financial protection.
According to Floodsmart.gov, floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S., and flash flooding is the number one natural disaster related killer. Floods can happen almost anywhere for a variety of reasons. Melting snow in spring can flood areas before the ground thaws. Construction and development can change natural drainage and create new flood risks. Dams and levees can break. If you’re a homeowner, you need a plan to reduce the risks of flood damage to your property and to protect your home and family. Consider these steps:
Stay up to date on the latest changes to flood maps by FEMA so you always know if your property is included in an official flood zone.
Know your risks. How would a flood impact your home and property? Take time to consider it and take any measures you can to lessen that impact.
Take stock. Keep a record of all your belongings in a safe place. If you need to file an insurance claim or request federal disaster aid, it’ll come in handy.
Have emergency procedures in place for communication, escape routes, shutting off utilities, and protecting property from rising water. Visit Ready.gov for ideas on constructing a basic emergency kit.
Protect personal data. Have all of your important files, financial records, and personal data backed up in a safe place. Consider storing valuable documents in a safe deposit box or another location away from your home, and scan and store important documents electronically with applications such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
Don’t make the costly mistake of thinking your homeowners policy will cover you in case of a flood. It won’t. And keep in mind, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has undergone some big changes in recent years, and flood insurance premium rates on many properties in flood hazard areas are on the rise. But the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 put a cap on how much premiums can be increased and how fast. For the latest in flood insurance developments, visit http://www.fema.gov/flood-insurance-reform and http://www.fema.gov/information-homeowners.
Remember, planning ahead isn’t just about being able to survive a flood – it’s about being able to get your life back on solid ground as quickly as possible. For more advice, talk to our personal insurance experts at Higginbotham Insurance.