Get FloodSmart: Understand Your Risk for Winter Flooding and Prepare

Flood Insurance is a Vital Source of Protection

Washington, D.C., January 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Much of the country already has experienced cold winter weather and snow this season. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) wants to take this time to remind residents of two things that put many homeowners at risk during the winter months. First, the dangers of severe weather and related flooding do not end when colder weather begins. Floods are a year-round hazard, and they can be especially damaging during the winter due to heavy seasonal rains, melting snows and other factors. Second, most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Without the financial safety net that flood insurance provides, residents may be forced to cover thousands of dollars in damage on their own.

A number of factors can cause winter flooding throughout the country, including ice jams, rapid snowmelt and intense rainstorms caused by warmer air patterns and sudden drops in temperature. Flood risks are particularly significant in the Western portion of the United States this time of year. The rainy season in these states brings the majority of annual precipitation to the region. Portions of the country may also see an increased risk of flooding because of summer wildfires, which leave the ground charred, barren and unable to absorb water, creating conditions ripe for flooding and mudflow.

There are simple steps residents can take to prepare for seasonal winter flooding, and one of the most critical ways to protect homes and businesses is by obtaining flood insurance. Because flood policies typically take 30 days to become effective, residents should not wait for the next storm to take action — the time to get protected is now.

Flood insurance is available to renters, homeowners and business owners through approximately 90 insurance companies in more than 21,000 participating communities nationwide. Coverage can be purchased for properties both in, and outside of, the highest risk areas, and in moderate to low-risk areas policies can start at just $129 a year. Individuals can learn more about seasonal flood risks and what to do to prepare by visiting FEMA’s FloodSmart.gov website, or by calling 1-800-427-2419.

For additional information, or to speak to a FEMA representative, call the FEMA Newsdesk at 202-646-3272.