If questions about flood insurance costs are keeping you from signing up, a new online tool can help you do the math. Hampton Roads planners andemergency managers, working with the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission (HRPDC), have developed a free Flood Risk Calculator thattakes the guesswork out of flood insurance costs for home and business owners and renters.
Funded in part by a grant from the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation and supported by the City of Portsmouth, the calculator tool is a new feature at GetFloodFluent.org, a website and region-wide public awareness campaign that provides information about flood risks inHampton Roads. The Flood Risk Calculator uses the standard rate tables provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) national flood insurance program. By answering a few easy questions on the online tool, residents will receive a baseline rate to determine whatthey could pay for flood insurance.
“Our calculator is specifically designed for residents of Hampton Roads, to help them make informed decisions when talking with their floodinsurance provider,” said Ben McFarlane, a senior regional planner with the HRPDC. “It’s an easy first step to understand the factors that determinethe cost of flood insurance before you call an insurance company and select your level of coverage.”
Using simple language, the calculator guides users through prompts for entering their flood zone, occupancy type, how the home is structured andtheir preferred coverage for the building and its contents.
In 2019, the average yearly premium for flood insurance in Virginia was about $737, or $61.40 a month. Flood insurance is not only recommended forhomeowners; renters and business owners should also be insured.
The City of Portsmouth’s Environmental Manager, Meg Pittenger, stated, “Anywhere that it can rain, it can flood. Portsmouth experiences floodingfrom a number of sources including tidal inundation and rainfall. It’s important to remember that rainfall flooding is not included in the “mapped”flood zones, so flooding can, and frequently does occur outside of those areas. The water doesn’t know where the flood zone lines are. Therefore,we encourage all property owners and renters in Portsmouth to purchase flood insurance.”
Flooding Risks in Hampton Roads
With a busier than normal Atlantic hurricane season on the horizon and communities still coping with the effects of a global pandemic, having floodinsurance means one less thing to worry about.
“In our region, it doesn’t even have to be raining for flooding to occur. It can come from storm surge, high tides, or sustained winds,” McFarlanesaid. McFarlane also wants residents to know that the uninsured cannot rely on federal disaster assistance after a flooding event. Relief is onlyavailable following a presidential disaster declaration, usually available in the form of a low-interest loan that must be repaid. Residents should alsobe advised there is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance policy goes into effect. So don’t wait until a hurricane is approaching to getinsurance.
“The damage of just one inch of water in your home can cost more than $25,000 in repairs,” McFarlane said. “You could hope you’re never impactedby flooding. Or, you can protect yourself from devastating loss by signing up for flood insurance.”
To get more flood facts and check out the Flood Risk Calculator, visit GetFloodFluent.org.
Are you flood fluent? Get the facts:
· Floods are the most common natural hazards.
· Anywhere it can rain, it can flood. The area’s rainfalls have become more intense and frequent over the past four decades.
· It doesn’t have to be raining for flooding to occur. Flooding can come from storm surge, high tides, and wind direction.
· Hampton Roads is experiencing the highest rate of relative sea level rise on the East Coast.
· You don’t have to be in a high-risk zone to experience flooding. Flood damage typically isn’t covered by homeowners or renters insurance.
An initiative of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, GetFloodFluent.org was developed by an advisory group comprised of municipalplanners and emergency management staff representing all 17 local jurisdictions in Hampton Roads. Their goal is to make residents aware of the facts associated with flooding in the region and encourage them to act responsibly by making sure their homes and businesses are covered by floodinsurance.