2003-08-08 / Community

FEMA: Buy Flood Insurance

FEMA: Buy Flood Insurance

Both Rockaway and Broad Channel are surrounded by water and therefore prone to the kind of flooding that wipes out homes and causes lots of monetary damage.

Even as communities hit by Hurricane Claudette recover, officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) remind renters and property owners that the most active portion of the 2003 hurricane season is still ahead, and they urge those in Atlantic and Gulf Coast states to purchase flood insurance policies quickly to obtain Financial protection from floodwaters and storms surge.

"Buying flood insurance is one of the most important things people can do help themselves recover from flood damage," said Michael D. Brown, FEMA Director and Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness and Response. "It’s especially critical during hurricane season for residents along our coast and inland to safeguard their property against the devastating effects of widespread floods."

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, makes federally backed flood insurance available in communities that adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances to reduce future flood losses by regulating new construction. Currently, more than 4.4 million policies representing $640 billion worth of coverage are in force in nearly 20,000 participating communities in the U.S.

"Flood damage, unlike wind damage, is not covered by homeowner’s or business insurance policies," Brown said. "This coverage must be purchased separately and is available only in communities that participate in the NFIP. There’s usually a 30-day waiting period before a new flood insurance policy becomes effective, so don’t wait until the water is rising."

Brown also had warning for people who think they can rely on federal disaster assistance in lieu of flood insurance.

"Disaster assistance is only available when the President issue a major disaster declaration," he said. "Even then, it is quite limited—and usually in the form of a loan that must be repaid, with interest. It is hardly a substitute for flood insurance, which also covers losses from small, localized flood events."

"Flood insurance may be purchased through most insurance companies and licensed insurance agents," said FEMA’s Mitigation Division Director Anthony S. Lowe, who administers the NFIP.

Lowe said the maximum coverage amounts for a single-family home are $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 for its contents. Renters may also purchase up to $100,000 of coverage for their personal belongings. Maximum coverage for businesses are $500,000 for buildings and $500,000 for contents.

The NFIP is a self-supporting program. For information about flood insurance, property owners should contact their insurance agent or call the NFIP’s toll-free information line at 1-800-427-4661. Flood insurance information is also available on FEMA’s website at www.fema.gov/ nfip/ .

On March 1, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA’s continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, as well as training first responders.

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