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Flood

Flood Myth: Not in my neighborhood

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There are many myths about flood insurance, and the biggest myth is thinking you don’t need it. With a tropical weather system stalled over parts of Florida this week, the ensuing deluge should get you thinking about why you need this important protection.

A standard homeowners insurance policy does not cover flood insurance, and that’s been true for more than four decades. If you live in an area at high risk for flooding, the mortgage lender requires flood insurance. If you live in a low-risk flood zone, the lender does not require it. But that does not mean you don’t need it. Would you be motivated to consider flood insurance if you knew that nearly 25 percent of flood insurance claims are paid to people living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones? Well, now you know.

As of September 2015, there were 1.8 million flood policies in force in Florida. Yet, there are more than 3.1 million single family homes in our state. Many of those Florida flood policies are bought by people living in coastal condos. Do you need flood insurance if you live on the 9th floor of a high rise on the Gulf? Yeah, you do. Because if storm surge beats up the bottom floors of the condo making it uninhabitable, you won’t be able to retrieve your personal possessions as the building is likely to be unstable/condemned. Flood insurance would cover that loss.

Flood insurance statistics show about 68 percent of policies nationally cover single family homes, 21 percent cover condominiums, and 5 percent cover businesses and other non-residential properties. Two- to four-family units and other residential policies accounted for the remainder.

Earlier this summer, there was flooding in parts of Tampa Bay. The National Flood Insurance Program reported just 38 claims. That is not an indication of the minimal amount of flood damage; it is an indication of how few people have flood insurance.

Tropical Storm Erika reminds us to prepare, no matter what

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Tropical Storm Erika could be a threat to South Florida come Monday – or not. No one can know for sure. That’s the way it is with weather. Florida’s Emergency Operations Center was activated, with officials acknowledging that Erika could result in anything from a rainy weekend to a category 3 hurricane.

Businesses affected by recent flooding may get loans, not handout

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Residents of the Tampa Bay area, particularly in parts of Pasco County, experienced the unfortunate impact of flooding last week. Days of rain and a saturated earth around the Anclote River created circumstances that a local newspaper described as a “rinse-and repeat routine.” Parts of neighborhoods have been slogging through water for more than two weeks.

Businesses have suffered too. And, the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is asking businesses how the flood affected them by inviting business owners in five affected counties to take an online survey to help the department decide which get immediate aid.

Flood Insurance Premiums

Rainy season is here, and parts of Florida know it all too well as some areas experienced heavy rainfall in the past 24 hours – with more on the way, almost daily. And, that reminds me that my flood insurance premium is due.

Renewing flood insurance coverage should be a no-brainer for those living anywhere near a body of water.

An inside view of flood damage

You’ve probably seen numerous dramatic photos of the recent flooding in Texas. Cars underwater, buckled roads, smashed houses. The photo below is what it looks like when the water recedes and a home doesn’t wash away. If you ignore the piles of soggy carpet, limp drywall and damp possessions awaiting the trash man at the curb, the homes look fine on the outside. On the inside, it’s a mess.

I was in Houston last week, helping share information on disaster recovery. In a flooded neighborhood along one of the bayous, home after home was deep into the drying out process. It’s a shared experience none of them wanted, and several of them had been through it before. Tropical Storm Allison affected the same neighborhood in 2001. Interestingly, I saw only one home that was elevated more than a few inches. There likely were more, but this one stood out because it stood UP high and dry above the others, at least 3 feet.

Houston homeowners who had flood damage are learning about an ordinance that requires them to elevate their homes if their damage exceeds 50 percent of the structure’s market value. This is something that Floridians need to think about, too. Do you have enough insurance to rebuild after disaster, taking your local ordinances into account? Don’t wonder about it. Be sure! Call your insurance professional to ask about your law and ordinance coverage.

Hurricane Center’s new storm surge map shows what can happen

Storm Surge Map

Find out today if you live in a hurricane storm surge evacuation zone. Map courtesy National Hurricane Center Storm Surge Unit.

Hurricane Season 2014 chalks up another storm-free year for the history books. Nine in a row. How lucky can we get! The unspoken question: How lucky can we stay?

With that in mind, there is a new map you should look at to learn about the risk Floridians face from storm surge. Flooding is the nation’s #1 natural disaster, and it’s not just a coastal problem. The water has to go somewhere, and it often chooses inland areas.