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Flood Insurance: Who Needs It? EVERYONE!


It doesn't matter where you live... you could flood at ANY time!
Everyone living in a participating community of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can buy flood insurance. Harris County and the incorporated cities within the county are participants in the NFIP. Just because your home is not mapped within the 100-year flood plain does not mean that you are free from the potential to flood. FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) show areas subject to flooding from a primary flooding source, typically major rivers, bayous and their tributaries, and are meant to help determine the risk of flooding for a property. However, flooding from sources that are not identified on the FIRMs is possible and occurs often in Harris County. Many homes flood because excess storm water cannot drain into a storm drainage system fast enough to prevent localized ponding from reaching the inside of a home. On a national basis, one-third of the flood loss claims are from property located outside of the mapped 1% (100-year) flood plain. This does not mean the FIRMs are wrong. It simply means that not all flooding sources are mapped and that more severe floods can occur than the ones mapped.

Image showing an aerial view of a neighborhood innundated by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Allison

Know Your Risk of Flooding
The NFIP is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA produces the FIRMs, which are based on technical analyses, studies and historical flooding information. The FIRMs contain a variety of information, including flood risk information, special flood hazard areas, Base (or 100-year) Flood Elevations, areas subject to inundation by the 1% (100-year) and 0.2% (500-year) floods along primary channels, and common physical features like streams, highways, roads and railroads. FIRMs can usually be viewed at your local community map repository site - typically, your local planning or engineering office - or you can view FIRMs by contacting your homeowners insurance agent or mortgage company. For a nominal charge, FIRMs can be ordered from FEMA by calling 1-800-358-9616, or by logging on to http://store.msc.fema.gov.

Image showing the aftermath of flooding that occurred outside of the mapped floodplain.

Flood Insurance Must Be Purchased Separately
Remember that flood insurance is not included in your standard homeowner's policy - you must provide for it separately - and the cost is relatively inexpensive (especially if your home is not located in the mapped flood plain). Flood insurance is sold through private insurance companies and is financially backed by the federal government. Contact your insurance agent for more information about purchasing flood insurance. Having flood insurance will not keep you from flooding, but it will help you recover. So remember, everyone lives in a flood zone, but most people don't know their degree of flood risk. The District recommends that all residents carry flood insurance. Please do so.


Image of a mailbox as the only thing visible above the floodwater. Flooding can occur any time, anywhere!

Flood Insurance is VITAL for Our Area
Nature always fights on its own terms and periodically exacts a heavy toll in terms of property damage. In this context, a storm like Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 was an extremely rare event - with rainfall of dangerous intensity that spawned "off-the-charts" rainfall and flooding levels in many heavily populated parts of Harris County. We can expect more storms like Allison in the future. It's just a matter of when... and where.

Even if you are not moved by the physical danger such a storm presents, consider this: Repaying a $50,000 flood-related loan from the Small Business Administration costs about $300 a month over many years, while the average flood insurance policy usually runs about $300 annually. The savings in money and misery are obvious.


How to Get Flood Insurance
Visit the National Flood Insurance Website, http://www.fema.gov/business/nfip/ or contact your insurance agent.

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