First Snows Hit Passes Opening Door for Possible Floods to Follow

October 21, 2004

November traditionally marks the onset of rainy season in the Pacific Northwest but this week’s wind and rainstorms may have given the area a head start, soaking roads and dumping snow up and down the Cascade Range.

According to FEMA Regional Director John Pennington, it’s time for flood insurance policyholders to review their policies and consider increasing coverage, and for uninsured homeowners and renters to think seriously about buying flood insurance.

“Our region is prone to a variety of natural disasters, ranging from seasonal flooding and winter storms to wildfires, earthquakes and volcanic activity, but flooding tops the list for disaster-driven property loss,” said Pennington. “National flood insurance offers solid protection from future flood losses, and pays off whether or not there is a federal disaster declaration. But there is a thirty-day waiting period before the coverage takes effect, so don’t wait.”

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies are available to communities that agree to adopt and enforce sound floodplain management practices, and according to Pennington, virtually every community in the Northwest qualifies.

“By aggressively managing their floodplains, local officials guarantee access to affordable coverage, and that’s important,” said Pennington. “While the very act of qualifying to join the NFIP reduces flood damage, by joining NFIP’s voluntary Community Rating System (CRS), communities can earn rate reductions for policyholders by adopting stronger management practices. You don’t have to live in a high risk flood zone to be vulnerable.”

Flood insurance covers structural damage and contents for all insurable residential and non-residential buildings. Maximum coverage for single-family homes is $250,000 for the structure itself, and $100,000 for contents. Renters can also insure their personal belongings for up to $100,000. Businesses can insure buildings for up to $500,000 for the structure, and contents for up to $500,000.

The NFIP is self-supporting, with all claims and operating expenses paid from policyholder premiums, not tax dollars.

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