Californians Deal with Winter Storms, Potential Floods

December 29, 2004

Californians this week are once again dealing with the effects of a fierce rainy season.

No California county is immune from the risk of flooding. In the past 10 years alone, there have been three large-scale, widespread, Federally declared flood disasters in California. During that time, California residents reportedly filed more than 20,000 flood insurance claims and received more than 244 million dollars in flood insurance payments.

“As we have seen this week, California’s winter rains can be sudden and surprisingly intense,” said Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response Michael Brown. “Residents should know how to prepare for these storms, and should be aware that their homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood and mudflow damage.”

California’s winter rainy season lasts through March. FEMA offers the following tips to prepare for winter flooding:

Before the storm

* Have a safety kit with drinking water, a first aid kit, canned food, radio, flashlight, and blankets ready to go.
* Know safe routes from home, work, and school on high ground.
* Protect the property. Make sure that one’s flood insurance policy is up to date.

During the storm

* Avoid areas subject to sudden flooding.
* Do not try to walk across running water more than six inches deep.
* Do not drive into flooded areas. If the car stalls, abandon it immediately—if possible—and seek higher ground.

After the storm

* Do not turn electricity back on in the home if smelling gas or if the electrical system has been flooded.
* Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by floodwaters or mudflows and throw out any such foodstuffs.
* Follow directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.

To learn more about the flooding risk, visit the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program) Web site, or call 1-800-427-2419.

Under the National Flood Insurance Program, federally backed flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners in communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood losses by regulating new construction in high flood-risk areas.

Currently, more than 4.4 million flood insurance policies are in approximately 20,000 participating communities nationwide, representing nearly $637 billion worth of coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program is self-supporting; claims and operating expenses are paid from policyholder premiums, not taxpayer dollars.

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