Property Risk Reduction From Floods

Most of us think we’re pretty good at avoiding risky behaviors. The statistics say otherwise. The average person sustains over 9,600 minor injuries in their lifetime. That’s 10 per month during an 80-year lifespan. Auto mishaps and healthcare risks constitute greater risks, but thankfully with less frequent occurrence. The average driver will incur four significant auto accidents in their driving lifetime, or about one every 18 years. Healthcare issues tend to increase as we age. Avoiding risky behaviors over our normal lifespan never stops.

In the area of property risk reduction it often comes down to being smart about where and how we live. Floods are the most common weather-related cause of property damage. During Hurricane Sandy many property owners were caught off guard by the risk that flooding posed as the storm came ashore. This misunderstanding of their flood risk led to many deaths and injuries. Homes were washed away and businesses were heavily damaged by flood waters.

To learn about flood risks regarding properties and to take steps to reduce that risk, the best place to start is by finding out what flood zone, from high to low risk, your property is in. Many municipalities create and update flood maps that show the flood zone for each part of their community. You can find your property on a local flood map by visiting FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center  or contacting your city or county government. Your insurance agent or mortgage lender may also be able to assist. The elevation of your property is the key. BFE is the elevation at which your building has a one percent chance of flooding annually. You can find the BFE for your property listed on many flood maps, especially newer ones, or by contacting your local building department or hiring a licensed surveyor. After identifying the BFE for your property, you need to determine whether the elevation of your property’s lowest floor is above or below the published BFE for your location. If your building is below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for the area, you should consider elevating your structure to reduce the chances it will flood. The Insurance Institute for Building & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends that buildings be at least 3 feet above the BFE in order to account for higher-than-expected flooding levels.