With the deep freeze we’ve been under this winter, it’s hard to imagine that temperatures will warm, all that snow will melt, and spring will arrive – but it will! And with that melting in addition to the typical Iowa spring storms, comes the potential for flooding. With current frost depths at 2 to 3 feet as a result of the “polar vortex,” periods of rapid snow melt and any additional rain will runoff into streams and rivers rather than being absorbed into the soil. (National Weather Service, 2014) We all hope that we won’t see devastation like that of 2008, but it’s important to remember that even mild instances of flooding can cause significant damage to your home and property.
Flood damage is not covered under a standard homeowners or property policy. A separate policy is needed to cover losses such as structural damage and debris clean-up costs that result from flooding. Additional policies to cover the contents of your home (furniture, clothing, jewelry, etc.) can also be purchased.
30% of flood claims are filed by people living in moderate-to-low flood risk areas.
Many people assume that the U.S. government will cover financial needs in the wake of flood damage. However, federal assistance is only available if the president makes formal disaster declaration. Those federal funds are then treated as a loan which in-turn have to be repaid, plus interest. Having a flood insurance policy means you’ll be reimbursed for covered losses and unlike federal aid, it never has to be repaid. In general, a flood insurance policy has a 30 day waiting period before taking effect. Therefore, it’s important to plan ahead instead of waiting for an immediate threat to apply for coverage – by that point it will be too late.
Currently, The National Weather Service in its first Spring Flood Outlook report issued on February 20th shows Eastern Iowa in a “Near or Slightly Below Normal” flood risk. Though we have had above average snowfall, that snow’s moisture content has been below normal – something to thank the frigid temperatures for – and current soil moisture levels are also below normal levels. Hopefully that means we’ll be in good shape heading into spring – but we still need to be cautious; heavy spring rains can still pose a risk so it’s good to be prepared. Remember, there is a 30-day waiting period for a new flood insurance policy to take effect so don’t wait until it’s too late!