Mother Nature Doesn’t Read Flood Zone Maps

Mother Nature Doesn’t Read Flood Zone Maps

Is your home in a flood zone? You can easily find out by looking at a map of your state. If your house is located anywhere on that map, it’s in a flood zone. It’s true. Just look at the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey last year. About two-thirds of the flooding occurred outside of FEMA’s Special Flood Hazard Area. More than half occurred outside any mapped flood zone.

“No-Risk-of-Flood” zones simply do not exist. Unfortunately, FEMA’s flood zone maps make it look like they actually do. FEMA takes an all-or-nothing approach to evaluating flood risks, which explains how opposite sides of the same street can be in different flood zones. Unfortunately, this approach fails to appreciate that flooding is the kind of risk that decreases gradually, not abruptly.

Nevertheless, FEMA has chosen to identify flood zones by drawing lines on a map. But, lines can provide a false sense of security because they have two sides. If houses at risk of flooding are on one side, then what’s on the other? FEMA’s flood zone maps make it look like homeowners on the other side of the line don’t have a flood risk.

Flood zone maps were supposed to encourage homeowners to buy flood insurance, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case. Instead, homeowners often use these maps to justify their decision to not buy flood insurance. As we have seen, the consequences of this decision can be devastating.

Hurricane Florence caused an estimated $28.5 billion in flood losses. The National Flood Insurance Program is expected to cover approximately $5 billion of these losses. But, like Hurricane Harvey last year, much of the flooding caused by Hurricane Florence occurred outside of FEMA’s flood zones. The result is an estimated $18.5 billion in uninsured flood losses.

Hurricane Michael appears to be painting the same picture. Early estimates suggest that nearly half of the losses will be uninsured. Most will be flood-related. This means that in a span of less than 30 days, thousands of homeowners experienced severe flooding, but most:

  • Were on the other side of FEMA’s flood zone line;
  • Did not have flood insurance;
  • suffered devastating flood losses; and
  • Don’t know how they will recover.

Floods can happen anywhere, so homeowners need to forget about flood zone maps. Your home is in a flood zone. Even if the risk of flooding is relatively low, you still need flood insurance to protect against potential losses. No more excuses.

Please contact us to learn more about obtaining flood insurance for your home.