Rising above the Rising Waters

August 12, 2016, homes in Southern Louisiana were beginning to flood from a torrential downfall of rain that occurred over the course of a couple of hours.  Many homes began getting water coming in that afternoon/evening.  However, some homes did not notice they were going to flood until the early morning hours of August 13th.

A local resident in Denham Springs, LA; lived in an apartment on the first floor.  She went to bed on the night of August 12th, thinking they would be safe from the flood.  Much to her surprise she and her husband awoke to water coming in their apartment.  She posted on her social media outlet at 6:46am; “It’s rising so fast. Power is out. I’m so scared. Waiting on help. Can’t get out. Car and truck are under water. We didn’t think we’d flood. We should’ve left last night…”

first signs of water entering

Between the hours of 5:45am and 10:30am the water in their apartment rose to 4.5′.  They had to be rescued and leave all their belongings behind, grabbing what they could on the way out.  Outside the apartment, in some areas, the water was above shoulder deep.

The top picture is their French Doors to their apartment and shows where the water was when they left.  The white truck is theirs, along with the Camry parked with water up to the windshield.  The photo credit of Denham Springs goes to Oliver Lutro.

Upon asking about Flood Insurance, they were told they were not “in a flood zone” and that the Flood Insurance would not be needed.  They were not presented with an estimate for this insurance and took the advice they were given, as like many others in the area.  Since they were living in an apartment the only coverage they would have needed was for their Contents on both a Tenant’s Policy and a Flood Policy in order to be protected.  Due to not having this coverage this couple had to watch their hard-earned valuables, literally be washed away in the floods.  This picture below shows the final rising of the damage to the outside of the apartment complex.

13962566_10208157481068867_6701496599688576425_n

Now, to put things in perspective; a Flood Insurance policy on strictly contents in a “X” flood zone like theirs is an average of $300 or less for $50,000 in coverage for a year.  Now most people don’t need $50,000 in coverage but this shows how inexpensive this coverage is.  Now in hindsight, sure this couple wishes they would have been presented with this option.  However, in most cases decision makers in families tend to not elect Flood coverage if they are not in a designated “flood zone”.  They see it as an expense they cannot afford at the time and would rather just “take the risk” of not having the coverage.

The pictures above show the interior damage to the apartment.  You can see where the water rose to and the mud that is now layering the carpet.  In the first picture you can see where the water was even able to pull the refrigerator away from the wall and cause it to fall over.  This was total devastation and a loss this couple was not financially, mentally or emotionally equipped to handle.

FEMA Assistance

As you can see from the above FEMA Disaster Assistance program, you are able to get financial assistance to recover from your loss; HOWEVER, notice first sentence under the section labeled Loan Terms.  Disaster survivors MUST repay SBA Disaster loans.  So now,  you are repaying the government for a loan AND you’re paying interest.  You might even at this point now be paying for Flood Insurance on top of this because of the lesson you learned by not being covered.

In this example, this flood victim has lost between $10-$15,000 in valuables inside their apartment.  Some of these are replaceable; however, some are not.  Since they were in a “X” flood zone, they could have paid an estimated $225 or less per year for $25,000 in contents coverage.  In 5 years they would have paid an estimated $1,125 to be financially secure during a natural disaster such as a flood.  Now in this couple’s case they were not allowed to make an educated decision on a Flood policy and whether or not they should purchase a policy.  However, many flood victims might have made the decision to “roll the dice” and not purchase the flood insurance, because they are in a non-flood zone.

Per National Flood Insurance Program; “Flooding can occur in moderate- to low-risk areas as well as in high-risk areas. Poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, snow-melt, and broken water mains can all result in flood. Properties on a hillside can be damaged by mud-flow, a covered peril under the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. In high-risk areas, there is at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. For these reasons, flood insurance is required by law for buildings in high-risk flood areas as a condition of receiving a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender.”

With this being said, anyone could be in a flood zone if the conditions are right for it.

This lovely couple is still struggling 2 weeks later to find a place to live, as they have pets and availability is very limited.  They are looking to move to another city which will be closer to her husband’s work or even back to Texas where they are from.  In the meantime, they are living in a hotel with what memories they have left and their fur-babies.  They are a very positive and uplifting couple in the midst of their devastation.  When I asked her what would she advise others now that she has experienced this loss…

“Trust God.  He will get you through even when you don’t know how.  And BUY FLOOD INSURANCE NO MATTER WHAT!!  Most that flooded weren’t in a flood zone and you see what happened”

I write this blog to bring awareness to others and show what happened in Southern Louisiana could happen anywhere.  Floods usually strike without warning. They’re always swift and severe. The threat often comes from events like hurricanes or heavy storms, but they can also occur after a drought or wildfire, when vegetation that would normally absorb excess water is no longer there. So it’s important to be prepared.

5 Reasons Flood Protection can’t wait:

  1. Every home is at risk, with floods and flash floods recorded in all 50 states regardless of terrain or climate.
  2. Almost 25 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas designated as “minimal flood risk.”
  3. Flood damage is not covered under most homeowner insurance policies.
  4. Federal disaster assistance often comes in the form of a loan with interest, and it’s only available if the President formally declares a disaster.
  5. Even after flood insurance is purchased, there may be a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins.

It only takes an inch of water to cause costly damage to a home. Isn’t that worth a measure of protection?

The below picture is all the Louisiana couple has left of their belongings:

All thats left

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