FEMA Urges Wisconsin Residents to Prepare for Possible Spring Flooding

Most of Wisconsin Remains at Risk 15 Years After The Great Floods of 1993

WASHINGTON, March 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Flooding has already caused severe damage in five counties in Wisconsin late last year, and FEMA urges residents to take steps now to protect themselves before more seasonal floods strike. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, and the spring months bring unique risks to inland states throughout the Midwest. Spring weather brings rapid snowmelt, severe storms and heavy rainfall to Wisconsin each year, increasing the likelihood of flooding. Despite the increased risks in the area, currently less than 1 percent of Wisconsin residents are insured against flood damage.

This spring marks the 15th anniversary of the Great Floods of 1993 – still one of the largest floods in United States history. During the spring and summer of 1993, Wisconsin was one of nine Midwest states that experienced catastrophic flooding that resulted in $270 million in insured losses and more than $15 billion in total damages. In five of the last 15 Wisconsin spring seasons, floods have been deemed Presidentially-declared disasters.

“Floods pose a threat to every state in our nation and they happen year round – often with little notice,” said David Maurstad, Assistant Administrator of Mitigation and Federal Insurance Administrator for FEMA. “We strongly encourage residents in Wisconsin – and across the country – to include flood insurance in their flood preparedness strategy.”

Most homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Flood coverage must be purchased separately, and there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a new flood insurance policy becomes effective, so the time to purchase a policy is now. Federally backed flood insurance is available to residents, business owners and renters in high and low- to moderate-risk areas.

“Relying on disaster assistance to recover from flooding is taking a big risk,” said Maurstad. “In many cases, disaster assistance is not available and, when it is, it comes in the form of a loan that must be paid back with interest. Flood insurance is the best option for financial protection because it is a dependable investment that promotes swift and cost-saving recovery.”

Residents are reminded that protecting themselves from flooding requires simple action, including: storing important documents, adhering to local evacuation plans and purchasing flood insurance to protect their financial investment. FEMA also offers the following tips to prepare for flooding:

Before a Flood

— Have a safety kit with drinking water, a first-aid kit, canned food, a radio, flashlight and blankets.

— Know safe routes from home, work and school that are on higher ground.

— Protect your property. Most homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. Make sure that your flood insurance policy is up to date.

During a Flood

— If flooding occurs, go to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding. This includes dips, low spots, canyons, washes, etc.

— Avoid areas already flooded, especially if the water is flowing fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.

— Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters. NEVER drive through flooded roadways. If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground.

After a Flood

— Do not turn electricity back on in your home if you detect gas or if the electrical system has been flooded.

— Clean and disinfect everything that was touched by floodwaters or mudflows and throw out any such foodstuffs.

— Follow directions from local officials regarding the safety of drinking water.

Flood insurance is available through approximately 90 insurance companies in more than 20,400 participating communities nationwide. The average flood insurance policy costs around $500 a year. Everyone can purchase flood insurance – renters, business owners and homeowners – and last year one-third of all claims paid by the National Flood Insurance Program were for policies in low- to moderate-risk areas. In low- to moderate-risk areas, lower-cost Preferred Risk Policies (PRPs) start at less than $120 a year. Individuals can learn more about their flood risk and how to protect their property by visiting FloodSmart.gov or by dialing 1-800-427-2419.

FEMA coordinates the Federal Government’s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or manmade, including acts of terrorism.

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Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency