Find out if your facility is located in a floodplain. Areas along rivers and creeks prone to flooding are called floodplains. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) creates flood maps using floodplain delineations, flooding frequency, historical evidence, and scientific studies. FEMA uses these maps to price flood insurance policies. Flood maps are available at: www.fema.gov Flood maps designate areas that are at a high, moderate, or low risk of flooding. The zones delineate flood boundaries:
Look at the flood map for your area to see in what zone your business is located. Determine the approximate elevation of your facility’s buildings by placing a GPS receiver at ground level. You can compare that elevation with FEMA zone elevations on the flood map. Doing this allows you to estimate how many feet above or below the flood map elevations your buildings are. If you are not in a Zone A, don’t automatically assume you are completely safe. Local flash floods can still occur. In fact, 25 percent of all paid insurance claims come from damaged areas outside of Zone A flood zones. To be sure, facilities in Zones B or C are at less risk than facilities in Zone A. However, as flash floods have shown, a large ditch near your facility might be the source of major flooding on your property. If the creek is running full, then there is nowhere for the water in the ditch to go. In fact, creek water will actually run back into the ditch and force water to back out onto surrounding land. Flood maps are just one of many information sources that will help define your risk of flooding at the facility. Flash floods also have shown that large amounts of rainfall focused on one area can cause a wall of water to rush toward lower ground. This can flood areas no one anticipated. In 2008, multiple storms dumped 10 or more inches of rain in areas not designated as floodplains. Thousands of people who lived and worked in those areas never thought it would flood. Ultimately, 89 percent of the people who experienced flood damage from these storms lacked flood insurance. You may not be able to do much about unexpected floods, but you can carry flood insurance and build smart by raising some critical equipment a few feet off the ground to avoid flood damage. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t buy flood insurance. No matter where your business is located, you should be able to buy some protection. If you have flood insurance, find out how much coverage you have before the flood. A number of standard insurers provide some flood coverage in their package property policies. These usually range from $50,000 to $100,000. This may be adequate, but you need to be familiar with the coverage to avoid surprises and a false sense of security.