Cantwell Encourages Flood Preparedness, Marks Flood Awareness Week

is the top Western state for flood damage claims with $140M in damages over 10 years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell encouraged residents in flood-prone areas to re-examine their flood preparation plans, in recognition of Flood Safety Awareness Week. Washington has the highest flood damage claims of any Western state over the past 10 years, with more than $140 million in damages, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) data.

From March 14 through March 18, FEMA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are reminding families in flood-prone areas to protect themselves and their property with simple steps, including: having an emergency preparedness kit, storing important documents in a safe place, and considering the purchase of flood insurance

“For generations, floods have posed a serious threat to the safety and property of Washington state residents and businesses,” Senator Cantwell said. “Now is a good time for Washington residents to double-check their flood preparation plans and make sure they’re taking the necessary steps to protect their families and their homes from the nation’s most common natural disaster.”

Since 1970, each Washington state county has received a Presidential Disaster Declaration for flooding, which qualifies the affected area for additional relief funding from FEMA. The Washington counties most impacted by floods include: Grays Harbor, King, Lewis, Snohomish, Skagit, Pierce, Thurston, Cowlitz, Whatcom, Clark, Mason, and Pacific.

Floods occur somewhere in the United States nearly every day of the year, killing almost 100 people on average annually, and causing billions of dollars in damage. The risk is especially high in areas where floods driven by extreme weather, coastal storms, and spring snowmelt pose a serious threat.

During Flood Safety Awareness Week, families and individuals are encouraged to take a few simple steps to protect themselves and their property. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover flood damages, and most policies take 30 days to go into effect. FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program makes flood insurance available through thousands of insurance agents located in nearly 21,000 communities across the nation for an average of $570 per year, or as low as $129 per year for lower risk areas. According to FEMA, 20 percent of all flood insurance claims come from moderate-to-low-risk areas.

Cantwell has long been a strong advocate for improving weather forecasting and flood preparedness for Washington and the Pacific coast, including consistently supporting NOAA’s use of a highly specialized research aircraft to patrol the North Pacific Ocean, ensuring more accurate long-term forecasts for winter storms that threaten Washington state and much of the North American continent. She also secured funding for Washington state’s first coastal Doppler radar station, which will be deployed in September, 2011, a year earlier than originally anticipated, and will help give earlier warning of potentially damaging rain and floods.