Miss. Residents Reminded of Deadline to Purchase Flood Insurance

February 9, 2006

While many Mississippians continue to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the official start of the hurricane season on June 1, 2006 is fast approaching.

Because it takes 30 days after purchase for a new policy to take effect, residents have less than 90 days to purchase and activate a new flood insurance policy for the beginning of the 2006 hurricane season.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), encourages all Mississippi residents to strongly consider protecting their home and valuables with a flood insurance policy.

“While disaster recovery in Mississippi Gulf Coast communities continues to move forward, it is vital to prepare for this year’s upcoming hurricane season now,” said Nick Russo, federal coordinating officer for FEMA. “Purchasing flood insurance or renewing an existing policy is one of the first steps Mississippi residents can take to prepare for future storms.”

Flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States in terms of lives lost and damage to property. Mississippi has more than 5.2 million miles of floodplain and about 25 percent of all flood damage in the state occurs outside of mapped floodplains. Yet, only 43,763 Mississippians reportedly carry flood insurance on their property.

“Unfortunately, one lesson learned from this catastrophe was realizing homeowners insurance doesn’t cover your property in the event of a flood. You must have flood insurance,” said Robert Latham, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). “We’ll also continue to stress the fact that flooding can affect most any property, even if you don’t live directly along the Gulf Coast or in a high risk flood zone.”

Purchasing flood insurance isn’t restricted to those living in Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The only requirement is that you reside in a community participating in the NFIP program. Currently, Mississippi has 274 participating communities. To find out if your community participates in the NFIP go to www.fema.gov/fema/csb.shtm.

To date, more than 13,800 Mississippians have received $1.8 billion in NFIP claims from damages caused by Hurricane Katrina.

Flood insurance is also available to homeowners, business owners, and renters. Policies offer up to $250,000 coverage for homeowners and up to $500,000 for business owners. An additional $100,000 of coverage for contents can be purchased as well. Policies average $450 per year. The cost reportedly is substantially less in low and moderate flood risk areas.

For more information about FEMA and the NFIP, visit www.fema.gov and www.floodsmart.gov.

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