Editor's Note: This is the second of a three-part series.
Major flooding in Missouri can occur at any time of the year and cause millions of dollars of damage over a wide area.
"Flood insurance helps businesses and private citizens recover after a flood," said Phelps County Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp.
While severe flooding usually comes in cycles, it is not limited to certain decades or areas, according to the National Weather Service.
Since January 1993, Missouri received 26 disaster declarations involving flooding that exceeded local and state response capabilities. Each year, Missouri communities experience numerous localized flooding events that do not merit a federal disaster declaration.
Residents in the Beaver Creek Subdivision south of Rolla were victims of localized flooding in 2002. Residents in Jerome were victims of flooding in 2008 and 2011.
If there is not a federal disaster declaration, flood insurance is the only financial protection for personal losses. Flood insurance is not provided in the basic homeowner's, business or tenant's policy. Flood insurance must be purchased under a separate policy through your local insurance agent in participating communities.
In Missouri, nearly 600 flood-prone cities and counties participate in the National Floodplain Insurance Program (NFIP). When a community enters the NFIP, it agrees to regulate floodplain development. In return it also makes flood insurance available in that community.
"Phelps County participates in the flood insurance program, and homeowners have the option to buy the insurance," Verkamp said.
Residents do not have to live in an actual floodplain to be exposed to the hazard of serious flooding.
Here are some other important facts about the NFIP:
• Homeowner's insurance policies do not offer protection against flood losses.
• Homeowners, business owners and renters can purchase flood insurance as long as their community participates in the NFIP.
• You do not have to live in a high-risk flood area or floodplain to buy flood insurance. In fact 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from medium or low-risk flood areas.
• If you live in a high-risk flood area, you are four times more likely to have a flood than a fire during the term of a 30-year mortgage.
• You can buy flood insurance from any licensed insurance agent. You may call 1-800-427-2297 or go to floodsmart.gov to find an agent serving your area.
• Flood insurance coverage is available for residential and business structures and contents.
• If you have a home-based business, you'll need to purchase separate coverage for the business and/or contents. Coverage is not automatically included under a homeowner's flood insurance policy, even if the business is located inside your home.
• Renters can purchase contents coverage for personal belongings.
• There is a 30-day waiting period from the time the initial premium is paid until the time the policy becomes effective.
• A flood insurance policy reimburses you to certain limits for actions taken to prevent flood damages. These actions can include moving the insured contents to a safe place and/or the cost of purchasing sandbags, plastic sheeting, lumber or pumps, among other items.
• Flood insurance claims are paid regardless of a federal disaster declaration.
• Flood insurance will reimburse you for your covered losses and never has to be repaid, unlike a disaster assistance loan.
• Flood insurance claims are handled quickly so that flood victims can recover faster.
• Flood insurance claims are paid by policyholder premiums, not tax dollars.
For more information on floodplain regulations in Phelps County, call Meramec Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) at 573-265-2993. MRPC serves as Phelps County's floodplain coordinator.