Federal emergency officials in late February reported a surge in the number of California residents who have purchased flood insurance, most likely in response to a rainy El Niño winter.
Officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency said insurers wrote more than 55,500 new policies since Aug. 31, a 25 percent increase.
The number of new policies topped 27,000 in December alone, astonishing agency officials who say they haven’t witnessed this kind of an increase since the National Flood Insurance Program was created by Congress in 1968.
FEMA chalked up the uptick to greater awareness of El Niño. However, the agency did not report increases in other western states also affected by El Niño.
Strong El Niño storms drenched parts of California in January.
It’s uncertain whether this season’s rains will rival that of El Niño rains in 1997 and 1998, when storms killed more than a dozen people, washed out highways and wiped out crops.
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