Flood Risks and Flooding Events

Great Flood of 1993-Situation map-fr

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Flood Risks and Flooding Events

Flooding can be caused by many different events (or combination of events) in many different areas. If it rains where you live, it can flood where you live, it’s as simple as that. 

Definition of Flood Risks

Okay, we’ve already established that flooding can happen anywhere, but some areas are at a higher risk of flooding than others (they’re the High Risk Areas!). Flood insurance companies have created a series of flood maps which can help each community to understand their particular risk of flooding (and the amount you have to pay for your flood insurance).

High Risk Areas are defined as areas which have a 1% chance (at least) of flooding every year. That might not sound a very high percentage, but if you have a 30 year mortgage then there’s a 26% chance that your home will be flooded before it’s paid off . . . sounds a bit different now doesn’t it?  On a flood map these areas are classified as Zones A or V.

Moderate to Low Risk Areas have a less than 1% chance of flooding each year. If you live in one of these areas you don’t have to have flood insurance, but it’s still a very good idea.  These Zones are classed as B, C or X.

If you live in an area which hasn’t been analyzed for flooding hazards it still doesn’t mean that it won’t happen. These Zones are classified as D and you still need to protect your property with flood insurance. It only takes a couple of inches of water to cause thousands of dollars worth of damage . . . just remember that!

Flood Maps

Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) were devised so that communities and insurance companies could clearly understand the risk of flooding in each particular area. You can clearly see whether you live in a high risk or a moderate to low risk area, or whether your area has not been analyzed for potential flood risk.  The FEMA can also conduct a Flood Insurance Study for each community to really understand the flood risks local to the area.  Statistical data is included from many different sources:

  • storm tides
  • river flow data
  • rainfall
  • hydrological analyses
  • topographical

All of this info is used by FEMA to decipher the chance of flooding in each community.  Areas which are at the highest risk of flooding are coastal and floodplains. Some of these floodplains might be flooded quite regularly, others may only suffer from flooding after a particularly severe storm. Even the areas close by to these floodplains can also be at quite considerable risk of flooding.

Map Changes

Everything is changing these days, and flood risk is no different. In fact, have you noticed how flooding seems to becoming more commonplace these days?  Many different things can affect the risk of flooding.

  • Environmental changes
  • New developments
  • Deterioration of levees

For this reason FEMA is constantly needing to update flood hazard maps. These newer, more up to date maps are known as DFIRMs – or Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps for those who like things to have a proper title.  Every time a new flood risk map is issued it can potentially alter your flood risk zone along with your individual flood insurance requirements.  If you were once in a high risk area but then find that you’ve been downgraded, you might be able to make a bit of saving on your flood insurance premiums.  Once upon a time you might have felt safe if you live by a levee, but these days it’s becoming evident that it can potentially increase the risk of your property being flooded.  It’s almost like you can’t win isn’t it? Anyway, if your local levee no longer meets federal protection standards then you might find that you’ve moved from a moderate to a high risk area without even knowing it.

The Cost of Flooding

Floods are the most common cause of a natural disaster in the United States, you don’t have to live next to a river or by the sea, it’s not only after a tropical storm of biblical proportions . . . floods happen in lots of areas, lots of times, which is why it’s so important that you have adequate flood insurance.

  • The average flood insurance claim is a massive $48,000 . . . average remember, so that means that there must be many claims for an even larger amount.
  • 20% of flood insurance claims are from moderate to low risk flood areas, which really proves that it doesn’t only happen in the high risk zones.
  • As little as a couple of inches of water can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage . . . that’s really all it takes.
  • A 6″ flood in a house of around 1,000 square feet can cause around $20,000 worth of damage. It really does add up you know, your personal items, furniture, electrical items, electrical and plumbing in the house, carpets and flooring, wall finishes, insulation, cleaning etc. etc.  If your house is closer to 2,000 square feet then you can more or less double that, and that’s for a mere 6 inches of water, it’s a paddle up to your ankles is all it is!
  • Way back in 1993, the Great Western flood (remember that mamma’) went on for more than 4 months, causing more than $16 billion of damage to almost 50,000 homes.

How Can a Levee Fail

In lots of different ways . . . just watch this!

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