Did you know that flooding is one of the most common and costly weather disasters in the United States? March 12-18 is Virginia Flood Awareness Week, the perfect time to plan and protect your home from potential flooding from spring rains and the upcoming hurricane season.
One of the most important steps residents can take to prepare today is to check whether they need flood insurance. Whether through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or a private carrier, flood insurance allows individuals, businesses and communities to quickly and efficiently recover after a flood. Most homeowners' and renters' insurance policies do not cover damage caused by floods.
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, just one inch of water in a home can cause up to $25,000 in damages. Flood insurance can mean the difference between recovering and being financially devastated. Stafford County participates in the NFIP, which means all residents are eligible for flood insurance, even if they do not live in a high-risk flood zone.
With the support of the County, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has updated the community’s potential flood zone maps to reflect the best available data. The County has received a final determination letter from FEMA stating that updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps will become effective and updated by June 2023. Stafford has created a handy online tool to input your address to determine if you are in a flood zone, which currently reflects the information from the 2021 FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The link is www.staffordcountyva.gov/floodzones.
In addition to knowing your home's level of flood risk and purchasing flood insurance, there are many ways to protect your home from damage caused by flooding. Here are a few easy, inexpensive recommendations:
- Maintain proper water runoff and drainage. Routinely clean and maintain gutters and downspouts so that rainwater from your roof flows quickly away from your home. Ensure ditches, storm drain inlets and stream channels are debris-free to allow the free flow of water.
- Locate your outdoor sewer cleanout cap and ensure that it is adequately sealed. A properly functioning sewer cleanout cap ensures that stormwater from a flood event does not enter your sewer system, which is not built to accommodate a large influx of water.
- Anchor and elevate utilities and service equipment. Raise and anchor air conditioning condensers, heat pumps, water meters, and other service equipment at least one foot above potential flood elevation. This inexpensive action can help prevent significant damage and disruption during a flood event.
- Locate your home's emergency water shut-off valve. Make sure all household members know where it is located. You should also make sure the valve can be completely shut off. It may be rusted open, or it may be only partially closed. If so, replace it.
- Protect your valuable possessions. Move important documents and other valuable or sentimental items to a safe location, well above potential flood elevation and/or inside watertight containers.