The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Reminds Homeowners to Weather the Spring Thaw by Covering-Up with Flood Insurance

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Record snowfall creates greater than normal potential for flooding. Snowmelt predictions from the National Weather Service serve as an early reminder for consumers to consider purchasing flood insurance.

“Flooding may seem like a distant concern with snow still falling around the country,” said Leslie C. Henderson, Federal Alliance for Safe homes, Inc. - FLASH® President/CEO. “However, right now is the best time to take steps to protect your home.”

Record or near-record snowfalls in recent months combined with above normal rainfall at the end of last year could yield a spring thaw with a new set of headaches for homeowners throughout a large portion of the North and North Central United States stretching from Montana south to St. Louis, Missouri.

According to the National Weather Service, a greater than normal potential for flooding following snowmelt exists this spring along the Mississippi River in Minnesota as well as western Wisconsin, North and South Dakota, and Montana. The snowmelt prediction serves as an early reminder for consumers to consider purchasing flood insurance and consider flood mitigation steps if they are at risk for flooding.

“There is a 30-day waiting period from the day the flood policy is purchased to when coverage begins,” said Leslie C. Henderson, President and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. - FLASH®, the nation’s leading non-profit disaster safety education and awareness organization.

“Flooding may seem like a distant concern with snow still falling in many areas of the country,” added Ms. Henderson. “However, right now is the best time to take steps for family and home protection.”

An initial release of the Hydrologic Assessment focusing on the North Central United States was released Friday, February 11 and is due to be updated on February 24. The initial assessment notes that “heavy autumn rains and above average water content in the snow pack throughout the North Central U.S. have produced a high risk of moderate and major flooding for the Spring of 2011.”

The assessment notes, “The areas of greatest concern include the Red River of the North in North Dakota and Minnesota, Devils Lake in North Dakota, the James River and Big Sioux River in South Dakota, and areas along the Upper Mississippi River including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri.”

According to the report, the risk of flooding “is gauged by the cumulative impacts of precipitation, groundwater conditions, stream flow, snow conditions, river ice and reservoir storage.”

The assessment also notes that heavy rainfall at any time can lead to river flooding, even when overall river flood potential is considered below average.

“Ice jams can cause rapid water level rises on rivers with significant ice accumulation,” notes the report, adding, “The extent of flood risk also depends on the rate of melt.”

And with no end in sight yet to the continuous snowfall, the potential for the risk to spread beyond the North Central region grows.

“Floods are the most powerful, deadly, and destructive natural disasters, and they’re the most common too,” said Ms. Henderson.

FLASH offers consumers important information on the dangers of floods in a series of videos and animations online at http://www.flash.org.

In addition, Ms. Henderson said homeowners may want to consider some options for floodproofing their homes from flooding. Wet floodproofing makes uninhabited parts of the home resistant to flood damage when water is allowed to enter during flooding. An example of wet floodproofing is to install flood vents, creating permanent openings in the foundation walls. Another option is dry floodproofing. Dry floodproofing protects a structure and its contents from flood damage by sealing the building so that flood waters cannot enter. Families can find out more information about both of these options on http://www.flash.org and by viewing the FLASH Flood animation online.

Flood insurance is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through most insurance agents. Families can get more information about their flood risk and flood insurance at http://www.floodsmart.gov or by calling 1-888-379-9531.

The nonprofit Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, Inc. – FLASH® is a 501(c)3 collaboration of organizations dedicated to strengthening homes and safeguarding families from natural and manmade disaster. Based in Tallahassee, FLASH is the nation's fastest‐growing disaster safety education organization with more than 100 partners including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Florida Division of Emergency Management, The Home Depot, International Code Council, National Weather Service, Renaissance Reinsurance, Simpson Strong‐Tie, State Farm, USAA and WeatherPredict Consulting, Inc. In 2008, FLASH opened the interactive weather experience; StormStruck: A Tale of Two Homes®. To learn more about FLASH and access their free consumer resources, visit http://www.flash.org call (877) 221‐SAFE (7233).

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