Hurricane Season Begins Today – Time to ‘Plan, Prepare and Protect Your Family’

June 1, 2012

Tropical storms Alberto and Beryl have already made pre-hurricane season appearances in the Atlantic and the Harris County Flood Control District Is urging Katy area residents to act now and create preparedness plans.

Residents are also being reminded to purchase flood insurance if they do not have coverage for their homes and valuables.

Hurricane season officially begins today and runs through November 30.

Flood control officials noted that the region’s relatively flat terrain and impermeable clay soils make flooding a risk residents face when a tropical storm or hurricane targets the Gulf Coast. While securing your family’s safety is the top priority in preparedness efforts, also important is understanding the potentially high cost of repairing flood-damaged structures without flood insurance.

According to the National Flood Insurance Program’s official website, just one inch of water inside a 2,000-square-foot home could result in approximately $21,000 in damages. Six inches inside the same home could cost approximately $40,000. Those costs continue to rise with the size of the structure affected and the depth of flooding.

Many people do not realize until too late that flooding is not covered by their standard homeowner’s policies. When weighing the decision to purchase flood insurance, consider the fact that repaying a $50,000 flood-related loan (at a 4 percent interest rate) from the Small Business Administration costs about $240 a month for 30 years. The average flood insurance policy usually costs $400 annually.

Know Your Flooding Risks

All residents of Harris County are vulnerable to flooding to varying degrees. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps, also known as FIRMs or floodplain maps, help determine areas at risk for flooding from bayous, streams and their tributaries overflowing. However, FIRMs do not show:

  • Risks for flooding when roadside ditches and storm sewers exceed their capacity, or from sheet flow, which is stormwater traveling over land to reach the bayous.
  • Risks for flooding from bayous and streams that have not been studied for floodplain identification and delineation. Of the more than 2,500 miles of bayous and creeks in Harris County, only about half have been studied.
  • Risks for flooding events that exceed the magnitude of a 0.2 percent (500-year) flood, such as Tropical Storm Allison, which dropped 28.5 inches of rain in 12 hours in some areas of Harris County in 2001. Sixty-five percent of the area that flooded during Allison was not in a mapped floodplain.

Contact your insurance agent for more information about purchasing flood insurance, or visit the NFIP at www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-888-379-9531.

Helpful Information

You can view a FIRM at FEMA’s Map Service Center (http://www.msc.fema.gov), or refer to the Flood Control District’s website at www.hcfcd.org.

The Flood Control District has a “Family Flood Preparedness” center at www.hcfcd.org/famfloodprepare with helpful, printable resources.

In addition, the Flood Control District’s on-line Tropical Weather Center at www.hcfcd.org/tropicalweather has many tools to help individuals and families get prepared and stay prepared during hurricane season, including:

  • A guide to creating, reviewing and updating a family disaster preparedness plan and hurricane preparedness kit.
  • Information on what to do before, during and after a tropical storm or hurricane.
  • A regional Hurricane Evacuation Zip-Zone map for Brazoria, Chambers, Galveston, Harris and Matagorda counties.
  • A comprehensive Hurricane Guide that pulls together a wide range of information about the anatomy of a hurricane, the destructive forces hurricanes can unleash and how Harris County residents can prepare for a tropical storm or hurricane. The Hurricane Guide is available at www.hcfcd.org/tropicalweather/hurricaneguide.
  • For residents who want to track the progress of tropical storms and hurricanes, the Flood Control District’s Hurricane Guide features a Quick Response (QR) code that when scanned by a mobile phone will take users to its on-line hurricane tracker tool at www.hcfcd.org/hurricanetracker.
  • Residents can monitor rainfall and bayou water levels on the Harris County Flood Warning System website at www.harriscountyfws.org. The Flood Control District’s Flood Watch team regularly monitors the data and works during severe weather events to advise the public and local officials of areas that are and could be affected by flooding.
InstantNewsWestu Staff

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