TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-- It doesn’t take a major body of water, or even a major storm to cause a flood. In Florida, approximately 80 percent of residents live or conduct business near the coast and many inland live near Florida’s lakes and rivers. The risk for flooding in Florida is significant, and many of our residents are not prepared for the task of rebuilding after a major storm.
“Flooding is our number one natural disaster hazard in Florida,” said Charles Speights, Community Program Administrator for the Florida Division of Emergency Management. “Flooding isn’t just caused by hurricanes; a strong thunderstorm event with heavy rain can cause significant damage.”
In recent years, almost 60 percent of all federally-declared disasters were related to floods. Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damages and many people depend on the federal government aid to help them rebuild after a flood. What residents are surprised to find out is that the most common type of federal disaster assistance is a loan, which must be paid back with interest.
To put it into perspective, a $50,000 Small Business Administration Disaster loan is generally paid off at $240 a month with 4% interest. The average premium for federally-backed flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is about $400 a year.
“We encourage all Floridians to consider purchasing a Flood policy to protect their property,” added Speights.
WHAT IS THE NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM?
The National Flood Insurance Program is a federal program established by Congress in 1968 which enables property owners to buy flood insurance at reasonable rates in participating communities. In return, participating communities carry out flood management measures designed to protect life and property from future flooding.
In Florida, 95 percent of our communities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program and more than 2 million flood insurance policies are in effect statewide. A 30-day waiting period generally applies before a flood insurance policy takes effect, so don’t wait until a storm threatens to get the proper coverage.
The Community Rating System is a system in place to reward communities whose floodplain management measures exceed those required to participate in the NFIP by providing flood insurance discounts to residents in those communities.
The Florida Division of Emergency Management is responsible for providing technical assistance to local governments to maintain eligibility in the NFIP and CRS programs. DEM also provides assistance to individuals who wish to improve their homes’ resistance to floods through mitigation efforts.
State officials urge all Floridians to determine their flood risk. Some flood risks can be reduced through building practices such as raising homes off the ground, constructing flood barriers or flood proofing. Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information on flooding and to determine whether your home is located in a flood zone.
State grants are available to those who wish to participate in flood mitigation through the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program and the Severe Repetitive Loss Program. For more information on the Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, visit http://www.floridadisaster.org/Mitigation/FMAP/index.htm. and for more information on the Severe Repetitive Loss Program, visit: http://www.floridadisaster.org/Mitigation/SRLP/index.htm.
Residents should also update their family disaster plans to ensure they are ready in the case of a major flood. For more information on disaster assistance, and to find out how you can Get a Plan! for disaster preparedness, visit www.floridadisaster.org.