No Flood Insurance Means Big Bills for Utah Residents

May 26, 2017

It’s been more than two months since northern Utah resident Wyatt Brammer’s house was damaged from flooding and he still hasn’t gotten it fixed.

After 33 inches of water filled his basement, he said, it could cost as much as $17,000 to pay for the repairs because he didn’t get the proper flood insurance.

Most homeowners in Utah don’t have federal flood insurance, which has left some with big bills to repair flood damage.

Less than 1 percent of homes in the state have federal flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program, said Barbara Denver, of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That means only about 4,000 homes have gotten this type of federal coverage.

“Do I think there’s a larger number of people (who) are at risk in the state than the 4,000 we show? Yes,” she said.

The risk of flooding in northern Utah could be exacerbated by insufficient infrastructure and flood maps that haven’t been updated frequently enough, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

Brammer said his house is technically not in a flood zone but the flood map for his neighborhood hasn’t been updated in about seven years.

In the future, northern Utah could be at an even higher risk for flooding because of increasingly heavy rain and melting snowpack, said Brian McInerney, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service.

“The rain events are becoming more intense,” McInerney said. “So what used to be OK is, now, not so much.”

He said the Logan River in northern Utah is especially worrisome when it comes to flooding because of a combination of the snowpack and moisture. But other rivers, including the Bear River, could also be potentially problematic.

Last week, flooding from a nearby river made part of a Canyonlands National Park trail in eastern Utah impassable. The flood was a result of a combination of heavy rain and snow runoff, which caused the Green River to rise.

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