NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam declared March 10-16 Virginia’s first ever Flood Awareness Week.
Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster, but state and local emergency managers say most Virginians are not prepared.
Only 3 percent of Virginians have flood insurance .
Norfolk Assistant City Planner Lenny Newcomb advises every Hampton Roads homeowner should get it.
“If the water in a storm event comes in through your roof, call your insurance agent, if it comes in through your front door, you better have flood insurance, your homeowners policy does not cover flooding.”
It is required for homes in flood zones, but Newcomb warns, “Water does not know where a flood zone boundary is.”
That’s something more than 250 Virginia Beach homeowners learned the hard way when Hurricane Matthew blindsided them in 2016.
Virginia Beach city officials told 10 On Your Side then that 80 percent did not have flood insurance. Many ended up drowning in debt.
“You cannot buy flood insurance within 30 days of a named storm, you cannot get it, so if you wait to get flood insurance, you are not going to get it.” Newcomb told WAVY.com.
He said you should talk to an agent soon, because sea level rise is a real threat. Many Norfolk neighborhoods that did not experience flooding a decade ago are facing it now, or will in the future.
The cost for flood insurance is based on your risk, which you can easily find online by simply entering your address.
Newcomb says the least expensive policy costs around $400 a year.
If that sounds like a lot, consider this. According to the National Flood Insurance Program, one inch of flooding can cause upwards of $27,000 in damages to a home.
“The bottom line here in Norfolk, the cheapest investment you can make in your property is flood insurance,” Necomb insisted, adding that Norfolk participates in a program with FEMA that gets its residents a 15 percent discount on flood insurance.
You can also get cheaper rates by adding things like flood vents to your home or by elevating it.