Vermont’s Lake Champlain Remains Above Flood Stage

May 10, 2011

Water levels on Lake Champlain remained above flood levels Sunday as high waters continued to damage homes and roadways in Vermont.

The water level at 10 a.m. was 103.1 feet above sea level in Burlington, according to the National Weather Service. Flood stage is 100 feet.

The high waters have flooded hundreds of homes along the 120-mile lake, and forecasters said the combination of wind and wave action on Sunday would result in structural damage to flooded homes and camps and eroded roadbeds.

But many if not most of those homeowners will be lucky if they are covered by insurance.

Only 17.2 percent of Vermonters living in high-hazard flood zones have flood insurance, according to Brenda Clark, consumer specialist with the state Banking, Insurance, Securities and Health Care Administration. Of the 13,834 structures in Vermont’s high-hazard zones, only 2,355 have flood coverage, she told The Burlington Free Press.

“It really did surprise me,” she said.

In Chittenden County, where Burlington is located, only 14 percent of the structures in high-hazard flood zones were insured against flooding, said Ned Swanberg of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. That compares with an average of about 50 percent of people nationwide in high-hazard zones who have insurance.

Clark said she was told by a Federal Emergency Management Agency official that Vermont’s low rate of flood insurance coverage stems in part from the state’s aging population.

“You have a very old population, and when they no longer have a mortgage, they frequently drop the flood insurance because it’s not required anymore,” Clark said. “Flood insurance is expensive, especially with the economy the way it is in the state of Vermont.”

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