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Hurricane season preparedness: The importance of flood insurance

HOUSTON – Friday marks the first day of the new hurricane season and while many are still rebuilding from Hurricane Harvey, local leaders are urging people to prepare for 2018. 

“Everybody wants to view this summer through the lens of Harvey and that would be a mistake, every storm is different, “explained Harris County Judge Ed Emmett.  

Local officials want people to think about having enough medication, food and water in the event a hurricane forces people to either stay inside for a while or have to evacuate. 

“We had one aspect of hurricane, we had the rainfall of a hurricane, we did not have the wind, we did not have the storm surge of the rising sea level,” said Jeff Lindner with the Harris County Flood Control District. 

Flood insurance

Many neighborhoods were caught off guard during Harvey after their homes had substantial damage when the floodwaters entered their homes. 

One in particular was the South Park subdivision in Cinco Ranch. It’s adjacent to the Barker Reservoir and when the Army Corps of Engineers released the water, the area flooded. 

“I regret we didn’t do it before, you know? Pretty minimal compared to what it cost to rebuild,” explained Nicole Christ, whose home flooded during Harvey.

Her family did not have flood insurance and even at only 85 percent complete, they’ve spent about $120,000 so far. 

“I have no confidence in the Barker Reservoir and or the Army Corps of Engineers so we decided to get the flood insurance even though we don’t live near a big body of water,” explained Christ. 

Cost:

Flood insurance for homeowners in an area outside of a floodplain can cost between $400 to $450. 

“Literally it was three weeks after the storm actually hit I called my insurance agency and I didn’t realize it was so economical the price per year so I went ahead and got it,” said Scott Felske, whose home flooded in the same neighborhood. 

Once someone buys flood insurance, it takes 30 days to kick in, so that’s why it’s important to do it early rather than later. 

“I feel like all bets are off, just because  you didn’t flood this time doesn’t mean you won’t next time,” explained Christ who urged others to get flood insurance. 

Keeping valuable items safe

Unfortunately many people lost family pictures and belongings during Hurricane Harvey. 

When Harvey came I lost I lost my son’s baby book and a bunch of pictures,” said Brandi Clancy as she teared up.  “I think that’s one of the biggest things I learned is to not have anything that you really care for down super low.” 

Clancy recently bought plastic waterproof containers to hold documents and pictures just in case it does flood again. 

“Am I 100 percent prepared right now? No, clearly, but in the event that something were to happen I can put some valuables in the house and get out quickly,” said Clancy. 

Watersheds:

Lindner said Harris County has 22 watersheds and it’s important to know whether people live or work by one. 

According to the Harris County Flood Control District website, a watershed is a land area that ultimately drains rainfall runoff (or stormwater) to a common body of water.

It’s important to know where they are located in the event of a heavy rain and also to know what local authorities are talking about whenever they issue warnings. 

The watersheds drain from west to east, so for example, if someone lives near Cypress Creek and I-45 and there was a lot of rain upstream in Waller County, a homeowner would know the water will make its way east towards them.