(Featured photo documents a 1997 Coyote Creek flooding incident in Santa Clara County)
It may be hard to fathom flooding in drought-stricken California just as we are entering the sixth year of a historical drought.
But the truth is the threat of flooding exists any time there is a chance of rain. More so during a drought when the ground has been hardened so that instead of being absorbed, stormwater runs off the hardened earth, potentially increasing stream levels and the possibility of flooding. Standard homeowners and renters insurance does not cover flood damage. For this reason, purchasing flood insurance is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for flooding.
Flood insurance can save a lot of headache and money. If you live in an area designated by FEMA as a Special Flood Hazard Area, you must purchase flood insurance if your mortgage is with a federally regulated or insured lender.To find out if you live in one of these designated areas, click here: http://msc.fema.gov/portal.
For property owners who do not live in these Special Flood Hazard Areas, the risk of flooding is still a real possibility. Flood insurance policies are available as an “excess coverage” or add-on policy with a private insurer, or through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP premiums start as low as approximately $146 and vary depending on the level of flood risk and amount of coverage needed. But the cost of an annual premium doesn’t compare to the cost of damages to an uninsured home.
However, it is important to note that most flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before taking effect, so don’t wait until the last minute to purchase it. If you wish to have peace of mind this rain season by purchasing flood insurance, now is a good time to do it.
As the flood control agency for the county, the Santa Clara Valley Water District works hard to mitigate flood risks for county residents. The water district manages about 275 miles of creeks countywide and annually prepares creeks for winter rains through levee maintenance, sediment removal, bank repair and vegetation management. Since the 1980s, we’ve invested more than $1 billion in flood protection efforts to protect nearly 100,000 parcels and we have 18 projects to protect 25,000 more over the next five years.
The water district also participates in the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS), designed to reduce flood insurance premiums for participating cities in the county. Community Rating System points are awarded for flood protection projects, outreach and activities, and result in a rating.
In our county, cities participating in CRS also earn points based on their flood risk reduction efforts, and those points in combination with the water district’s points result in insurance premium discounts of 10 to 15 percent. This multi-jurisdictional partnership has saved Santa Clara County residents over $2 million annually in flood insurance premiums.
To learn more information on flood risks for homeowners as well as insurance resources, visit www.floodsmart.gov.
For more information on protecting your property, visit our flood protection resources page: http://valleywater.org/Services/FloodProtectionResources.aspx