FEMA encourages Oklahomans to get flood insurance

OKLAHOMA (KFOR) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is encouraging Oklahoma residents to obtain flood insurance to protect themselves from potential financial losses, even if they do not live in areas with a high risk of flooding.

“We’ve seen from past conditions and past events that the rain has caused the floodwaters to rise outside of the designated high-risk areas,” said FEMA Flood Liaison Gilbert Giron.

“Don’t underestimate the power of water and make sure your homes are protected,” he added.

The proposal comes as some parts of the country are hit by heavy rains and floods; Meteorologists told KFOR that it shows signs of climate change in the US

‚ÄúThis heavy rain falls in a short period of time [of time] it will happen more often,” said OU Professor of Meteorology, Jason Furtado.

“It is certainly the risk of flooding within the city or in rural areas that the risk increases significantly,” he said.

Furtado said that while flood maps often predict the areas most at risk, they cannot predict the future that is worrying.

“[The] the maps we created to flood [are] all from history. And much of it, unfortunately, is changing and changing rapidly; we need to be prepared for severe weather, which happens frequently,” he said.

Everyone’s home has the potential to be damaged by floodwaters, even if they are not in high-risk areas, according to FEMA Liaison Giron.

FEMA recommends that renters and homeowners contact a property and casualty insurance agent who is authorized to write flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.

Although Oklahoma insurance agent Juan Moore said flooding is not uncommon in the state, flood insurance is a topic of interest.

“People who live in flood prone areas [know] they need flood insurance,” said the owner of Farmers Insurance.

“[But] If you don’t live in areas prone to flooding, then, I think it’s a matter of preference,” he continued, adding that he uses rainfall maps to help customers determine their needs.

“[But] you can say you don’t have a good plan because you don’t understand it or think you don’t need it, and this leaves us exposed for not being prepared for natural disasters,” he added.

Moore said that while he has only handled flood claims for a decade as an insurance agent, he said it’s important for homeowners and homeowners to understand what they have.

“If you don’t trust your agent, fine,” he said. “Get what you’re doing.”

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides an insurance policy, which FEMA officials say can save people affected by floods financially.

FEMA officials said various types of assistance are available, including homeowners policies up to $250,000 for structures and up to $100,000 for contents, business or non-residential insurance up to $500,000 and contents up to $500,000; and renter’s insurance up to $100,000.

NFIP policies often include an Increment in Value for homes where renovations cost at least 50 percent of market value.

Flood insurance can cover damages caused by a flood even if the flood was not part of the event that earned the presidential disaster declaration.

However, FEMA officials are advising Oklahomans not to rely on federal disaster relief after a flood, because not all events are classified as a federal disaster, and disaster relief provides the necessary resources and funds to make homes safer.

“One inch of water can cost as much as $26,000. And if you have [a] major disaster, disaster relief is available only after the president declares it a disaster,” Giron said.

“You can purchase or renew a flood insurance policy by calling your insurance company or a local independent agent who can write flood insurance directly through the NFIP, administered by FEMA. If you don’t have an agent, go to floodsmart.gov/flood-insurance-provider to be added to the list of agencies offering flood insurance in Oklahoma,” FEMA officials said in a release Tuesday. “Visit FloodSmart.gov or call NFIP at 877-336-2627 for more information.”