Tuesday, 23 August 2022 16:21

Floodplain Management Office helps residents save money on flood insurance

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Firefighters with HFD Station 49 not only conducted rescue operations during Hurricane Harvey, they also battled housefires resulting from it. Firefighters with HFD Station 49 not only conducted rescue operations during Hurricane Harvey, they also battled housefires resulting from it.

 

Flooding is considered one of the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Based on the Houston’s flat topography, soil conditions and development, it can occur nearly anywhere in the metro area, not just the mapped floodplain.

The City of Houston Floodplain Management Office recommends area homeowners and renters purchase flood insurance, especially in conjunction with hurricane season.

“Purchasing a flood insurance policy is one of the best ways to prepare for future disasters and to protect from financial loss,” FMO Administrative Specialist Kathleen Brown explained.

Houston currently has 148,000 active flood insurance policies, but here’s another reason to consider getting flood insurance: Houston is ranked as a Class 5 Community, which is considered a high standard of the National Flood Insurance Program.

The ranking earned the City of Houston a 25% discount on flood insurance premium rates for the community, based on flood plain management practices and outreach activities. Residents can save more than $13 million on flood insurance premiums annually.

Property owners with flood insurance can refer to the declaration page of their policy to determine how much of a discount they currently receive, Brown said.

Discounts on flood insurance premiums range from 5% to 45% based on CRS points awarded to communities. The discounts provide an incentive for the city to implement new flood protection activities.

Houston achieved the ranking by reaching the required credit points in a 2020 FEMA verification scale.

“We met the three prerequisites as well: the watershed master plan, the floodplain management plan, and the warning and response checklist,” Brown said.

Brown said the Community Rating System requires the Floodplain Management Office to maintain a Programs for Public Information plan. The goal of the PPI is to better inform the public so residents can make better decisions and take steps to protect themselves from flooding.

“Outreach activities include mailings, presentations at HOA and super neighborhood meetings, postings on the Houston Permitting Center website, social media, hurricane preparedness videos, information tables at community events, and the three Class 4 prerequisites,” she said.

Houston is working to become a Class 4 Community, she said. Participating in the CRS program means lower flood insurance rates and the eligibility to participate in mitigation assistance grants. A Class 4 rating will mean higher discounts and an additional $2 million in savings for Houston residents.

In October 2021, FEMA introduced a new pricing methodology called Risk Rating 2.0. Some premiums saw an increase, other’s decreased and some stayed the same. If your rate increased, these two steps may help lower it:

  • Consider elevating the property or installing proper flood openings in a crawlspace. 
  • Acquire an elevation certificate, which provides more refined elevation information about your property.

Also, residents can take additional steps today to protect their home, family, and financial security throughout the year. The best way to protect against flood damage is to purchase flood insurance.

Here are a few steps you and your family can take to be ready for flooding:

  • Perform an annual “insurance checkup” with your insurance agent to make sure your policy covers flood damage with an appropriate amount of coverage.
  • Know your flood risk. Look up your address in the Flood Map Service Center to find out if you live, work, or travel in areas prone to flooding.
  • Take a household inventory. Take photos and videos of all major household items and valuables. Retain these documents in a safe place so they are available when filing insurance claims.
  • Protect important documents. Save copies of birth certificates, passports, medical records, and insurance papers in a safe, dry place. Keep original documents in a watertight safety deposit box.

The Floodplain Management Office will help residents learn more about the city’s floodplain, the need for flood insurance, and ways to protect people and property from the effects of flooding.

For questions or additional information, please contact Community Rating System Coordinator Sandra Deshotel at sandra.deshotel@houstontx.gov or Floodplain Administrator Choyce Morrow at choyce.morrow@houstontx.gov