Almost everyone lives in an area with some flood risk. The question is not if, but when, the next storm will occur in Texas. Flooding is still the most common and expensive natural disaster in the United States.
That’s why it’s important to remember that if it can rain, it can flood, and flood damage isn’t typically covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy.
Take the Glasgow family in Santa Fe, for example. They experienced the devastation of flooding firsthand during Hurricane Harvey. Their home withstood Hurricane Ike and Tropical Storm Allison. It had never flooded before Harvey, so the family didn’t have reason, or so they thought, to purchase flood insurance. But Harvey was a storm of historic proportions — and the Glasgows returned from evacuation to find the house inundated, molded and unsalvageable.
In the eight counties hit hardest by Harvey, only 17 percent of homeowners had flood insurance, according to The Washington Post. A Houston Chronicle analysis showed the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s average financial assistance for homeowners ranged between $4,000 and $7,000. Meanwhile, the average flood insurance payout was $120,000.
Flood insurance helps homeowners rebuild and recover, while federal assistance is only to help keep you afloat while you rebuild. Federal assistance is only available if the president declares a disaster after one of these major storms, and even then, assistance is likely to be provided for partial repairs or in the form of a low-interest loan that must be repaid. For most floods, however, no government assistance is available, and if government assistance is offered, it will not fully replace what you lose. The solution is to get flood insurance today.
Whether you rent or own your home, even if you don’t live in a flood zone, having flood insurance is the best way to recover quickly and completely.
Most policies take 30 days to become effective, so there’s no time to waste.
If your household received federal assistance after a presidentially declared disaster, and you live in a special flood hazard area, you’re required to maintain flood insurance. Otherwise, you will not receive federal disaster assistance for home repairs if you experience another flood event.
In the last 10 years, Texas experienced nine flood-related presidential declared disasters. Four of those disasters have occurred since Hurricane Harvey. Who knows how many more we will experience in the future? But we all can be prepared when they do come.
The Glasgow family now understands this reality. Although they lacked flood insurance, the family was eligible for the Texas General Land Office’s Homeowner Assistance Program and received keys to their rebuilt, elevated home last year. The program provides the first year of flood insurance, but the Glasgows plan to keep flood insurance coverage, so they don’t have to go through the nightmare of Harvey again.
I urge all Texans to purchase a flood insurance policy to protect their families and their livelihoods from financial loss.