The extremely heavy rains last Friday and Saturday over portions of South Florida remind us that we don’t need a hurricane to cause flooding. Numerous Local10 viewers sent pictures into the station showing the flooding. The picture below is just one example.
These rains remind us that we are indeed in the rainy season and flooding can occur. And Floridians know that tropical waves and tropical cyclones can bring tremendous rains. Last year Tropical Storm Fay brought over 27 inches of rain to the Melbourne area with numerous rainfall reports of more than 20 inches across east-central Florida. The system that eventually developed into Tropical Storm Leslie in 2000 dumped 17.50 inches of rain in South Miami, 15.79 inches at the Miami Weather Forecast Office (near Sweetwater), and 15.30 inches at Miami International Airport. Hurricane Irene in 1999 caused considerable damage due to flooding in South Florida. Flooding from that Category 1 hurricane lasted for a week, displacing several hundred people and isolating thousands more. The total rainfall amount recorded at Homestead Air Force Base from Irene was 14.57 inches while both Miami International and Fort Lauderdale International Airports reported over 10 inches.
A recent Mason-Dixon Poll indicated that 48% of people in the most vulnerable Atlantic and Gulf coastal states don’t have flood insurance. Given these tough economic times, I can understand why many people either don’t get flood insurance or have failed to renew their flood policies. But not carrying flood insurance in a state like Florida that is so vulnerable to tropical systems and heavy rains is not wise.
Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage. Without flood insurance, homeowners are responsible for the entire cost of repair for flood damages. According to data from the National Flood Insurance Program, about 25% of all flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low risk areas. For homes and businesses in these moderate-to-low risk areas, lower-cost policies are available for as low as $119 per year. It is important to note that there is typically a 30-day waiting period between the time you write a check for the flood policy and the day that policy goes into effect.
A wealth of information on how to prepare for floods and how to purchase a flood insurance policy can be found at FloodSmart.gov. After doing a little research at that web site, I encourage people to contact their agent who carries their homeowners or business insurance and ask about flood insurance. Don’t wait until it is too late. Hurricane season is also flood season.