Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of severe weather events, including flooding. Flooding is the most frequent severe weather event and the costliest natural disaster. Storm surge from hurricanes can drastically increase the risk of flooding in coastal areas. 90% of all natural disasters in the U.S. involve flooding. Floods not only affect high-risk coastal areas; 25% of flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low-risk areas such as those in Montgomery County. Just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage.
Because flood insurance is usually a separate policy, most homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides flood insurance to property owners, renters, and businesses. It is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is delivered by 60 insurance companies.
NFIP flood insurance is available to all residents of Montgomery County. Residents do not need to be in a flood zone to buy flood insurance. It is an affordable and proactive way to protect your home and yourself from future flooding events.
To find a provider, call your regular insurance provider and they can direct you to the right place. If you need help finding a provider, you can visit this site or call the NFIP at 877-336-2627.
There is typically a 30-day waiting period for a NFIP policy to go into effect, so it is important to get started with the process as soon as possible.
The average cost of the NFIP in Maryland is $622 a year, or $52 a month, but can cost as little as $129 per year. Maryland is the second-lowest costing state in the country. This covers $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for the contents.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently started utilizing a new risk distribution system called Risk Rating 2.0, which increases the fair distribution of premiums across all policyholders based on home value and unique flood risk. Under the new system, monthly premiums would decrease for 75% of Montgomery County policyholders.
Michael Boldosser, an Emergency Management Specialist for Montgomery County, has personal experience with a flooding disaster during Hurricane Isabel. He was living next to multiple rivers in Easton, Maryland, when the storm came through.
The eye of the storm was projected to be just west of Easton during high tide. At midnight, high tide came and water came within five feet of his front door but then started to recede. He went back to sleep but was awoken by a low battery warning from his smoke detector. When Michael got up to replace it, he noticed that the water had started coming into the house from all sides – the patio door, front door, back door, and all of the face boards.
Michael witnessed whitecaps in his front yard as the water seeping into his house started to cover the entire first floor. The water line crept up the stairs, eventually reaching the third stair by morning. His whole first floor was damaged and his furniture was floating. “It was a humbling experience. There was nothing we could do,” said Michael.
While the owner was fixing the damage, Michael and his wife had to move upstairs because of the extensive damage below. For months, they lived in two rooms and had to cook all of their meals with a microwave, toaster, and hot plate.
Luckily, Michael had flood insurance through the NFIP. He knew a storm was coming, so he took videos of his property before and after the flood to show the damage to his insurance company. His $50,000 insurance claim was taken care of, and the insurance process was not difficult to navigate.
“Flood insurance is cheap piece of mind. Get it! You can also shop around to compare prices from different insurance companies,” advised Michael.
If you have existing flooding problems, wet and dry floodproofing measures can prevent floodwaters from damaging your home and indoor items. Dry floodproofing measures use watertight seals to prevent water from entering during a flooding event. Wet floodproofing requires a variety of modifications to your house, including its walls, construction and finishing materials, and service equipment that allow water to enter and exit the house at the same rate. It also involves raising electrical and HVAC equipment above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) to protect it. Read more about these methods here.
Written by Fall 2021 Climate Intern, Alyssa Bialek: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alyssa-bialek-31329111b/