FEMA Starting Payments on Flood Claims
FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has received flood claims on more than 800 homes that were damaged in the Oct. 16th flooding in central Texas. Thus far, payments for insured losses have exceeded $22 million and could exceed $30 million when all claims have been filed and paid. This total does not include homeowners who did not have flood insurance coverage.
“Unfortunately, more than half of the homeowners who suffered flood damage had no flood insurance,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT). The Llano County Emergency Management Office reported the number of uninsured homeowners may have been two or three times the number of those with flood insurance.
The NFIP provides flood insurance coverage for homes located both inside and outside of federally designated flood plains. Hanna recommended that all homeowners consider purchasing flood insurance. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey 80 percent of flooded homes had no flood insurance. While residents in states living along the coast carry the majority of flood policies, less than 2 percent of homeowners nationwide have flood insurance.
A spokesman for the National Weather Service said the area just west of Llano recorded a three-day total of 12 inches of rain which pushed the Llano River to its second highest crest of 40.17 feet on the morning of Oct. 16. The flood waters claimed the life of a motorist who attempted to drive through a low water crossing in Llano. Authorities in Kingsland found a second victim whose body was discovered near the FM 2900 bridge that was destroyed. The victim had disappeared the week before in flood waters that struck Junction, 100 miles away.
The heavy rains pushed Lake LBJ, which is a constant level lake, up 5 feet above normal, resulting in additional flooding. The flooding carried the water level of Lake Travis up to its 5th highest elevation at 704.39.
LCRA meteorologist Bob Rose said the Llano River may be the most flash-flood prone river in the country.
“The Llano River’s watershed is mostly rock and hills and the run-off of rainwater from the higher elevations simply amplifies the speed of the flooding,” Rose said. “Yet, another factor is the extreme rainfall rates in this area where it’s not uncommon to get rainfall rates of 4 to 5 inches per hour.”
For homeowners in the process of rebuilding, both FEMA and the local emergency management officers are advising that construction not get underway until building permits that meet city or county building codes have been approved. ICT recommends avoid using storm chasing building contractors, but instead, seek contractors who live and work in the Central Texas area.
“As we have seen, flooding is not confined to homes near lakes or rivers or designated flood plains,” said Hanna. “Flood insurance is one of the least expensive insurance products available and it provides good coverage as well as peace of mind.”
A number of vehicles were also lost in the flooding. Comprehensive coverage on an auto insurance policy covers vehicles from flood damage. Approximately 75 percent of Texas drivers carry comprehensive insurance coverage.
For more information about flood insurance, turn to the NFIP at: https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program