ICT: Flooding is Hurricane Season’s Real Danger

June 2, 2004

As all eyes turn toward the Gulf of Mexico at the start of the 2004 hurricane season, the Insurance Council of Texas issued a reminder to Texans that they should beware of the potential for deadly floodwaters across the entire state.

“It doesn’t take a Class 5 hurricane to paralyze portions of the Texas coastline and inland,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “Several of the state’s worst natural disasters have come from downgraded hurricanes and tropical storms that have stalled over areas of Texas hundreds of miles beyond coastal waters.”

The state’s costliest storm was Tropical Storm Allison that dumped nearly two feet of rain over Houston on June 8, 2001. The storm claimed 41 lives. Other tropical storms have stalled over Del Rio, south central Texas and north central Texas dropping record rainfall amounts and causing deadly floodwaters.

On August 23, 1998, Tropical Storm Charley stalled over Del Rio. The storm dumped 18 inches of rain on the Texas border city in less than 24 hours. More than 600 homes and businesses in the city of 38,000 were destroyed.

Hurricane Alice was tracked more than 300 miles inland before its storm system stalled over Albany creating the state’s largest one day rainfall total of 29 inches on August 4, 1978.

Tropical Storm Amelia caused little damage when it came ashore on July 30, 1978. But three days later the storm began spilling torrents of rain in the hill country north of San Antonio. Floodwaters carried away 25 unsuspecting riverfront residents and campers sending water crashing down the Guadalupe, Medina and Sabinal Rivers. Amelia drifted northward and dropped another 20 inches of rain in the Abilene area before finally dissipating. Texans should be reminded that Texas homeowner policies do not cover flood damage.

Flood insurance is a separate policy that most people purchase from insurance agents through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. You’ve got to plan ahead. A flood policy takes effect 30 days after you buy it.

Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November. August and September are the peak months for Texas hurricanes.

Note: A Class 5 hurricane has winds exceeding 155 mph.

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