The Dangers of Inland Flooding & Need for Flood Insurance
Flooding is a natural disaster that strikes everywhere across the nation, and the risk is real for both inland and coastal locations. In fact, some estimate that inland flooding causes more property damage annually than any other disaster. In other words, when it comes to the flood map, low-risk does not mean no risk.
The reality is, flooding is so widespread an issue that 98% of counties in the United States have experienced a flooding disaster. Despite this shocking revelation, nearly 88% of homes and businesses are not covered with flood insurance. Much like coastal home and property owners, it is important for inland home and property owners to understand the dangers of flooding and how it can affect their lives.
In order to help, the team of experts at Wright Flood Insurance has put together the information you need to learn more about inland flood risks and why flood insurance is a safety net that everyone needs to consider.
River and Atmospheric Flooding
In a recent study by the University of Bristol, researchers found that more than 41 million Americans are at risk from flooding rivers. Rivers and streams across the country can swell and cause dangerous flooding for a variety of reasons, from nor’easters and snowmelt to an increase in “100-year” storms, powerful, fast-moving hurricanes, and low-pressure storm fronts.
A Washington University study recently found that high-water levels on rivers across the Midwest are rising close to one inch per year – that’s about 10 times faster than sea-level rise. As these waters continue to rise, levees typically built to withstand historic levels of water rise are more likely to breach causing catastrophic flooding. And that’s only one factor that creates dangerous river flooding.
In the western US, inland flooding can be the result of strong atmospheric currents, like the Pineapple Express, that carries and can release the equivalent of the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. These weather systems can stall over areas and create extreme rainfall and flooding. Atmospheric rivers not only cause flooding from extreme rain but also contribute to snowpack levels in the mountains that later can become snowmelt flooding in the spring.
Additionally, as recently seen with Hurricane Florence, a great number of inland flooding events are actually the remnants of tropical storm systems. Moving inland from the coast tropical storms continue to drop rain, sometimes in excessive amounts, sometimes over areas already saturated, and fill the tributaries and rivers downstream that lead to overland flooding. Inland flooding from tropical cyclones is often a sudden event that didn’t seem possible until it occurs.
What’s worse is that inland communities are typically unprepared for these events and are not always able to fully recover. Flood insurance is the only way to help minimize the expense of rebuilding if one of these inland flooding disasters strikes, and it also provides peace of mind that you’ll have a path toward recovery.
Flash flooding can happen anywhere; it’s not just a problem near rivers and streams. These floods occur when water rises, as the name evokes, in a “flash,” and typically are difficult to predict.
In fact, flash flooding occurs in areas where you wouldn’t typically think you were at risk, including:
- Dry desert regions where the terrain does not allow water to absorb, creating rapid runoff
- Mountainous regions that funnel heavy rainfall downward into valleys and beyond
- Densely populated areas that lack the natural landscape to absorb water and combat heavy rainfall.
Since flash floods can occur basically anywhere, protecting yourself with flood insurance is one of the only ways to mitigate the expenses associated with recovery from inland flooding and protect your home and family’s well being.
Wildfires & Burn Scarring
Wildfires are a force of nature in and of themselves, but the devastation they leave behind once the flames subside can be just as dangerous as the flames themselves.
When a large-scale wildfire occurs, the surrounding landscape is changed drastically. Trees are suddenly gone, the ground and soil are scarred, and other key landmarks that slow down runoff and help the ground absorb water often disappear.
The destruction caused by wildfires scars the land and creates optimal conditions for flash flooding, debris flow, and dangerous mudflow for up to five years after the flames die down.
Even though these events typically occur in dryer climates, it’s important to understand that the rains that may help extinguish a large-scale wildfire could also be an impetus for large-scale inland flooding.
It’s critical to understand how important it is to be protected in the event of a wildfire. Having flood insurance before a wildfire strikes is one way to protect your family, but securing flood insurance within 60 days of a wildfire’s containment date can also help you protect your home and family from the potentially dangerous inland flooding that may be coming.
What Can You Do About It?
The first step is to understand that no matter where you live there is a chance for flooding to occur. In fact, FEMA notes that 25% of flood claims and one-third of disaster assistance is paid out for floods in low-risk flood zones.
The second step is to secure flood insurance to protect your home and family. If your primary home is in the low-risk zone, then flood insurance will be relatively inexpensive, something less than $600. Contact your insurance agent and ask about flood insurance. They can help you find flood insurance that will protect you from the dangers of inland flooding and give you peace of mind that your home is safe.
If you’re interested in purchasing flood insurance to keep your home and community safe, call 866-373-5663 to speak to a local Wright Flood Insurance agent.