Wading in Water: Do you need flood insurance?

By Beth Malone and Danny Orrock

The flooded streets and damaged homes resulting from the storms that pummeled the state in September should serve as a wake-up call to us all. Some of you may be asking: Why didn’t I know my property was vulnerable to flooding? Why had I never thought to purchase flood insurance? Many of us now know whether or not to purchase flood insurance, however countless more remain in the dark.

We all know Georgia gets so humid in summer that walls sweat and hair frizzes, but in terms of rainfall, it’s been pretty dry in recent years. In the past decade, we’ve been plagued with droughts and water restrictions, so shopping around for flood insurance wasn’t necessarily a priority.

However, major development, like we’ve seen across the state, often alters hydrology and may bring new areas into the flood plain. And as a result, the flood plain maps become outdated.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the organization in charge of re-drawing the flood plain maps. However, the process can take years. And, unfortunately, even if FEMA alters a map there is no guarantee that affected homeowners will know their property is suddenly at risk of flooding since Georgia has no notification requirements.

One solution to this problem is House Bill 169, sponsored by Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler. This legislation would require the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which is notified by FEMA if changes are made to the state’s flood plain, to alert property owners whose land is affected.

If the legislature passes HB 169, Georgia’s homeowners will have the benefit of the most up-to-date information on flooding risks in their area.

This is imperative when deciding whether or not to purchase flood insurance – insurance I know many of my neighbors wish they would have had as they watched flood waters and debris wash into their homes this past September.