PEMA Warns on Spring Floods

March 9, 2004

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Director David M. Sanko has issued a bulletin urging renters and property owners to purchase flood insurance policies now to provide financial protection from potential spring and summer storms.

“It takes 30 days for a flood insurance policy to be effective, so buy before flood season,” Sanko stated. “History has shown us warming temperatures and the potential for rain can lead to disaster.

“The spring and summer months have the potential to develop storm systems that can cause major flooding,” he continued. “Pennsylvania is the most flood-prone state in the nation, and I encourage all Pennsylvanians to purchase flood insurance and think about flood safety to protect their homes and families from future flooding.”

Sanko noted that by buying flood insurance people is one of the most important ways people can help themselves recover from flood damage. “We can’t stop hurricanes and tropical storms or the widespread floods they cause, but we can help prevent them from ruining people’s lives,” he observed. “Flood damage, unlike wind damage, is not covered by homeowner’s or business insurance policies. This coverage must be purchased separately,” which can be done “through most insurance companies and licensed insurance agents.”

Sanko also had a warning for people who think they can rely on federal disaster assistance in lieu of flood insurance. He noted that “Disaster assistance is only available when the President issues a major disaster declaration. Even then, it is quite limited, and usually in the form of a loan that must be repaid, with interest. It is hardly a substitute for flood insurance, which also covers losses from small, localized flood events.”

Pennsylvania does not have a state disaster assistance program.

Sanko urged people who live in flood-prone areas to “listen carefully to all severe weather warnings and act immediately if protective measures are advised. Develop a family plan that identifies evacuation routes and a place to meet in case your family gets separated. And, don’t drive into low- lying areas or over roads and bridges that are already under water. It’s just plain common sense.”

For information about flood insurance, property owners should contact their insurance agent or call the National Flood Insurance Program’s toll-free information line at 1-800-427-4661. Additional flood safety information and weather updates can be found on the PEMA Web site at www.PEMA.state.pa.us.

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