Floods are the number one natural disaster in the United States and they can have a tremendous impact on individuals, communities and the economy. Flooding from 2010 to 2012 cost nearly $14 billion nationally. The most common floods occur when waterways such as streams and rivers overflow and exceed the capacity of infrastructure, like drains and pipes. We also know that southern Indiana is especially vulnerable.

Any home is susceptible to flood risk. The state and federal government have created flood-hazard maps to show communities the risk of flooding in their area. Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources provides a map of floodplains, which can be found online athttp://dnrmaps.dnr.in.gov/appsphp/fdms/. Also, the federal site, www.floodsmart.gov  provides maps with unique, interactive tools.

To protect the public against this risk, the federal government has created the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which enables property owners in participating communities to purchase flood insurance as protection against flood losses. Generally, homeowner’s insurance policies do not protect against these types of disasters. Flood insurance is also available for renters.

If you live in an area deemed to be “high-risk” and have a mortgage from a federally-regulated lender, you are already required by law to purchase flood insurance. In addition to federal regulation, local communities usually have floodplain ordinances which need to be met.

The information contained on the floodplain maps will help you determine whether or not to purchase a home that may be located in a floodplain. Buying a home in a high-risk area could result in higher costs. If you want to build a non-residential structure, you’ll need to know the elevation measurements. The federal government has recently redrawn the floodplain maps, so this information may be pertinent to current policy holders.

There are exemptions that can be attained from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). A waiver can be applied for if you can provide documentation that the structure is built on natural ground that is higher than the base flood elevation. FEMA is the agency that usually steps in when an emergency occurs. This agency offers federal disaster assistance pay. However, this usually comes in the form of a low interest loan to cover flood damage, not compensation for losses. Even then, these loans are only available if the U.S. president formally declares a disaster, and must be repaid along with any existing mortgage.

According to the NFIP, homes and businesses may qualify for the low-cost Preferred Risk Policy, with premiums starting as low as $129 per month for a home, and $643 per month for commercial buildings.

If you live in a floodplain area, take time to consider all options so that your property is protected in the event of any type of flooding.

Sen. Young represents Senate District 47 which encompasses portions of Crawford, Dubois, Harrison, Orange, Perry and Washington counties. For more information on Sen. Young, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business, call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s47.