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August 31, 2011

Hurricane Raises Important questions for Sacramento Homeowners

Due to emergency circumstances across the East Coast, families are packing their bags, loading up the SUV, and heading inland to avoid the inevitable results of Hurricane Irene. Though many of us could not begin do imagine the effects of a high-scale hurricane, our initial conception is the damage that will ensue on a home due to wind. But what about water damage? While wind will be an obvious threat, many homeowners in the effected need to worry less about wind damage and more about the damage that may be caused by water.

For those that live anywhere near water in the Sacramento Region, flooding from underneath a home is an obvious concern. In the case of a Hurricane, water is a threat from above. According to the Boston Globe, “flooding caused ‘from above’, i.e. heavy rain through a hole in your roof will be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Alternatively, flood damage ‘from below’, i.e. through the basement walls, is not covered. Water damage ‘from below’ is covered by flood insurance and policies are available through National Flood Insurance”.

So while our hearts and minds are with our East Coast friends, and we cannot begin to understand their fears and troubles through the unfortunate circumstances of Hurricane Irene, this is also an opportunity to evaluate our own priorities.

According to www.safca.org, Sacramento is one of the highest-risk cities for flooding in the nation, even alongside New Orleans. This risk is attributed to two things:

1. The levees of the Sacramento Region were built over 150 years ago and were not built to the “current engineering standards”. 2. Although the Folsom Dam was built in the 1950’s for the purpose of reducing water flow from the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the American River, the intensity of storms in the region has since significantly increased.

According to Michael Barry from the Insurance Information Bureau, “only 20% of all U.S. homes are covered by flood insurance […] homeowner’s need to buy a separate flood insurance policy that covers damage specifically from flooding due to a storm surges, torrential rains or other acts of nature”.

For some Sacramento homeowners, flood insurance is required. However, even those that are outside of the considered “high risk” areas should consider their options. “Homeowners outside of flood zones often go uncovered, mainly because homeowners don’t realize that their existing policies don’t cover floods or because they don’t feel their home are at risk”. The Water Resources Department of Sacramento County states that you do not have to be within a high-risk area to qualify for flood insurance and in many cases you may still be offered a discounted rate. Check with Cliff Cottam Insurance Agent to see what you’re covered for and read the fine print!

Coutesey of www.safca.org, www.msa2.saccounty.net, and The Boston Globe

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