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Do you have federal flood insurance? FEMA says you may need it

Updated: Mar. 26, 2021 at 6:17 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - FEMA officials remind people in Southwest Louisiana that spring is prime time for flooding. Unfortunately, many think their homeowners insurance covers flooding, but that’s rarely true.

If the damage comes from rising waters flood victims are likely on their own unless they have flood insurance.

Michael Johnson, who lives on Cherrydale Street in Lake Charles, flooded in Hurricane Delta.

“The bayou came into the house,” he said.

He did not have flood insurance. But he does now. FEMA says 40 percent of flood claims over the past five years came from moderate to low risk areas.

“Anywhere it rains, there can be flooding. That’s why flood insurance can help you save money if you get water in your house,” said FEMA spokesman Gerard Hammink.

He adds Federal Flood Insurance usually pays a lot more than FEMA would for those without insurance.

He says the average FEMA payment for flooding in Hurricane Laura was $3200.

”The average flood insurance claim paid was $60,000. So, $60,000 is going to do a lot to repair your home - $3200 is not going to get you very far.”

He says the average flood policy costs about $700 a year, maybe even less in moderate to low risk areas, and it is available to renters as well as homeowners.

Check out links below for more information:

You can visit www.ready.gov/floods for flood information and safety tips. To learn more about emergency and disaster preparation, visit the Get A Game Plan website at getagameplan.org or the Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness at gohsep.la.gov. To talk to a FEMA Community Education and Outreach staff member about steps you can take to reduce your flood risk, call 833-336-2487.

To purchase flood insurance call your agent or click for more information. Or call the National Flood Insurance Program at 877-336-2627.

And be aware that flood insurance does not immediately take effect when you buy it. FEMA recommends Louisiana residents buy or renew a flood insurance policy to protect themselves year-round. Hurricane season occurs around the same time each year, but FEMA officials say the threat of flooding occurs every day, all year long. There is usually a 30-day waiting period after applying and paying the premium before the flood insurance policy becomes effective. However, FEMA says there is no waiting period when flood insurance is required by a lender. Lenders may require flood insurance for a new loan, when a loan amount is increased or extended, or after a mortgage portfolio review shows that the building is in a high-risk area.

Flooding can be financially devastating. FEMA says just one inch of water can cause $25,000 in damage.

According to FEMA, policies for homeowners can carry coverage of up to $250,000 for the structure and up to $100,000 for building contents. FEMA says non-residential property owners can insure a structure for up to $500,000 and its contents for up to $500,000. And renters can cover contents up to $100,000.

Flood insurance can also help with recovery regardless of whether there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration. FEMA says residents should not rely on federal disaster assistance after a flood, since not every event is declared a federal disaster, and assistance is intended to help pay for basic needs and costs to assist in making your home safe to occupy. FEMA says flood insurance can help get you closer to your pre-disaster condition.

The agency urges people to be flood smart. You can buy or renew a flood insurance policy by calling your insurance company or a local independent agent who can write flood insurance directly with the National Flood Insurance Program, administered by FEMA. Visit FloodSmart.gov or call the NFIP at 877-336-2627 for more information.

For the latest information on Hurricane Laura, visit fema.gov/disaster/4559. For the latest information on Hurricane Delta, visit fema.gov/disaster/4570. For the latest information for Hurricane Zeta, visit fema.gov/disaster/4577. For mitigation information, view https://fema.connectsolutions.com/lauramit/. Follow the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account at twitter.com/FEMARegion6.

Speak to a Community Education and Outreach (CEO) specialist by calling: 833-FEMA-4-US or 833-336-2487 or visit CEO’s web page for publications you can use as guides for your recovery: https://fema.connectsolutions.com/lamit/ or https://fema.connectsolutions.com/la-es-mit/ for Spanish. These specialists provide information on how to repair and rebuild safer and stronger after a disaster.

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This link explains how to understand flood zones and maps.

This is the FEMA flood map service center you can search by address.

Check this out to see Louisiana’s flood maps.

Look here to research base flood elevation.

These are NOAA and USGS observations

If you have a story you’d like Theresa to investigate call her at 337-377-6436 or send her an email.

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