Fed backed insurance available for flooding

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Hurricane Katrina's storm surge swamped homes in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, displaced millions of people, and is one of the costliest natural disasters to ever happen in the United States.

While Butler County is in no danger of experiencing the flooding seen along the gulf coast during August 2005, county residents can now purchase federally backed flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

The Butler County Commission recently adopted a proposal to participate in the program.

&#8220What it does is allow residents to purchase relatively inexpensive flood insurance,” said Dennis McCall, Butler County Engineer. &#8220In participating, the county has agreed to monitor development inside flood zones.”

Butler County, said McCall, has very few areas prone to flooding.

&#8220We're kind of up on a hill,” he said. &#8220We have very few flood zones. Pigeon Creek is probably our largest creek in the county, but we have very few residents dwelling inside a flood zone and they are scattered throughout the county, but most are primarily in the Garland area.”

McCall said the program regulates how property is developed inside a flood zone.

&#8220It doesn't prohibit development,” said McCall. &#8220Since all the hurricanes, FEMA has started tightening up on how money is spent. When a county or city is declared a disaster area, one of the stipulations is that the county will monitor all future development inside flood zones.”

Congress established the NFIP in 1968. The goals of the program are to reduce future flood damage through management of floodplains, while also providing flood insurance.

People without flood insurance, said McCall, face a total loss of property. According to the NFIP, the government does offer federal disaster assistance loans to help cover flood damage, which doesn't compensate for losses. However, those loans are only available if the President declares an area a disaster.

Officials with the NFIP said it's a good idea to purchase flood insurance even if you live in a low-risk area. Homeowners may even qualify for a preferred risk policy, which can provide coverage for a little over $121.