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More Flooding on the Horizon

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More Flooding on the Horizon

By: Adam M. Matheny

FEMA Urging Property Owners to Invest in Flood Insurance

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has paid out nearly $70 million in Missouri flood insurance claims since last year. Claims are still being processed, so this number is going to keep growing — and more flooding is likely on the way.

The National Weather Service predicts unusually damp ground conditions and higher than average precipitation throughout the Upper Midwest in 2020. This could mean increased odds of massive flooding in the St. Louis area as early as spring.

John Mills, spokesperson for FEMA, warns property owners that living anywhere it rains means that flooding is possible. Approximately one fourth of flood insurance claims are generated in areas that aren’t even considered high risk for flooding.

For those who are prepared with flood insurance, it’s possible to get financial assistance promptly, without waiting for disaster declarations from local or federal government officials.

FEMA is the primary department managing the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program). In 2019, St. Charles County, Missouri residents received more than $20 million in response to flooding. Other Missouri residents received more than $15 million.

In order for FEMA to provide this assistance, the area must be declared a major disaster. That declaration must come from president of the United States, usually at the request of the state’s governor. Once this is done, FEMA may provide regional financial assistance—but does not always.

Last year, President Trump approved Gov. Mike Parson’s request for disaster relief for some counties in Missouri hit by major flooding. According to FEMA, The National Flood Insurance Program paid out $4 million in claims for residents across eight counties that did not receive disaster designation.

This year, the agency has paid almost $23 million to residents in Illinois who filed flood insurance claims. While Trump approved Illinois’ request for major disaster declaration for severe flooding, residents still did not qualify for financial assistance from FEMA.  This is where flood insurance becomes important.

Jared Maples, a National Weather Service hydrologist based in Missouri, warns that it’s nearly impossible to predict how much it will flood, let alone when or pinpoint which areas will be affected. This is true in all areas prone to flooding or disastrous weather situations like hurricanes.

The majority of home, business, and rental insurance policies do not cover flood damage. For an average annual cost of $700, homeowners can be protected by flood insurance, which can cover up to $250,000 in structural damage, and up to $100,000 for damage to items in the home.

Insurance rates are set by the relative risk of flooding in any given area, so it will help to speak to an local insurance agent to find out whether your property is considered higher risk or not, when getting a quote.

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