We love our April showers and the May flowers that come with them. They bring signs of summer and add color and life after the long, dreary winter. Unfortunately, though, the showers sometimes turn into downpours, creating basement swimming pools and costly repairs.
Whether you have inches or feet of unwanted water, the shock of the flood could be made worse when you call to file a claim under your homeowners or business insurance policy. These policies very rarely cover flooding.
Flooding – More than What You Think
Sure, we all know what a flood is. But, do you know the legal definition?
A flood, as defined by the National Flood Insurance Program, occurs when weather conditions cause mud or water to flow into two or more properties or two or more acres of normally dry land.
Flooding can happen anywhere it rains. Whether you live in a recognized flood zone, a coastal location, or the Midwest, whether you live with a high risk of tropical storms or in the mountains, flooding can happen to you. In fact, floods are the most common natural disaster in the U.S. According to the government’s FloodSmart page opens in a new window, in the past five years all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods. On average, more than 20 percent of flood insurance claims come from people outside of pre-determined high-risk flood areas.
Springtime Sets the Stage
Aside from April showers, many people experience flooding throughout the springtime months. Several conditions that tend to add excess water to average water levels include:
- Heavy Rains: Flooding due to heavy rain can happen at any time. Pacific Ocean storms can cause heavy rain in the western states between November and April. Springtime rains in colder climates can be especially problematic as the still-frozen ground can’t absorb and drain the water. The eastern and southern states tend to see more flooding in the summer, as warm air and moisture move inland.
- Flash Floods: Again, another term with a legal definition. Rapid flooding takes place when low-lying areas flood in fewer than six hours. This is the most common severe weather emergency, as floods can roll boulders, rip out trees, and destroy buildings and bridges. They typically occur after a thunderstorm, but can also take place when a man-made structure or ice dam collapses.
- Snowmelt and the Spring Thaw: As with spring’s heavy rains in colder climates, snowmelt can be problematic, especially when it takes place midwinter or in the early spring. Later, during the spring thaw, the same situation can also happen. The ground is typically frozen and hard, and the water can’t penetrate the ground for re-absorption.
- Ice jams: A rise in water levels, especially from snowmelt, thawing, or early spring rains, can cause the frozen pieces of the river to thaw and break off. Widespread flooding can occur if the chunks of ice jam the rivers.
- El Niño: The weather pattern begins with unusually warm Pacific temperatures, which can cause more rain and storms across the country. Southern states are usually hit the hardest. The heavy rains that accompany El Niño can cause severe flooding.
These situations are all completely unpredictable. No one expects their property to flood, and there are very few steps that homeowners can take to prevent floods.
Protect Your Property
There are a few steps homeowners can take to secure their properties and keep them safe in the event of flooding.
- Elevate. Whether you elevate just your furnace, water heater, and electric panel, or you raise your entire house, keeping things higher than the predicted water levels can protect costly home replacements. You should also lift and anchor outdoor pieces like fuel tanks, air conditioning units, and generators.
- Install check valves. These valves close to prevent the backward flow of liquid – and prevent water from backing up into the drains of your home.
- Build barriers. Homeowners can use sandbags; businesses can build flood walls – either one can prevent or reduce the flow of water into the home.
- Waterproof the basement. Use a waterproofing compound to seal the walls of your basement.
- Clean. Cleaning gutters, drains and downspouts will allow for proper water flow.
- Purchase flood insurance. Most standard homeowners and business insurance properties don’t cover flood damage. In the event of a flood, you’d be responsible for covering the full cost of repairs and replacements.
Flood Insurance: Staying Above Water
Marine Agency offers personal and commercial flood insurance opens in a new window that covers both buildings and their contents. Policies are available across the United States. Some flood-prone locations may require flood insurance either by law or by a mortgage company. Other locations do not require flood insurance, but purchasing an affordable policy gives you thorough protection and peace of mind in any situation.
Call us or check out our contact page opens in a new window today to speak with a friendly and knowledgeable (real and not automated) staff member who will explain the many ways that Marine Agency will ensure that you’re insured and prepared for the unexpected!