Florida metros vulnerable to storm surge often outside flood zones
It’s hurricane season, rainy season and, therefore, flood season. Most of us Floridians rather like the rain, preferring it to snow for obvious reasons. The American poet Ogden Nash said rain is nicer than snow because you don’t have rain plows piling up rain in six-foot piles where you want to go. No, we don’t have rain plows, so the water goes where it can, not where we choose to pile it. And, that can be an insurance problem if you don’t have flood insurance.
Most homeowner insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Maybe you think only people who live in flood zones need flood insurance. Let’s converse on that subject.
YOU: I used the One-Step Flood Risk Profile on www.floodsmart.gov/ and learned I was in a low-risk zone. I don’t need flood insurance.
ME: It’s great that you checked, but go back to that web page, look under the Resources heading and check out the flood facts. You may be surprised to learn that people living in low- to moderate-risk zones file over 20 percent of flood claims.
YOU: Guess it’s wishful thinking to equate low risk to no risk.
ME: True. Everyone lives in a flood zone of some type, and just because you are in a low-risk zone does not mean you are immune from storm surge.
YOU: I don’t live near the water. Storm surge can’t touch me.
ME: Beg to differ. Even if you are outside a designated flood zone, you can be susceptible to storm surge. FEMA flood maps define areas at risk for fresh-water flooding, and that is a different hazard than hurricane-driven storm surge.
Storm surge is water pushed inland by the strong winds of a storm. The National Hurricane Center has a listing of notable surge events that include Florida impacts of Hurricane Dennis (2005) with 7-9 ft. storm surge flooding and Hurricane Opal (1995) with a maximum storm tide of 24 ft. The 2012 CoreLogic Storm Surge Report says there are 5 Florida metro areas showing a significant difference between the properties found in storm surge and flood inundation zones. A complete chart is on page 7 of the report. An excerpt is below. Please review it and think twice (or three time) about the need for flood insurance – or maybe buy a rain plow.