If you want a hike in Florida, try the stairs that lead to the beach or maybe an unrestricted sand dune to climb. Being the flattest state, Florida doesn’t offer much adventure for the avid hiker, but it can offer some thrilling rapids if there’s enough rain. Without the drainage that hills and mountains can provide, Florida is constantly at risk of flooding. The highest point in Florida is in nearby Walton County: Britton Hill and its mighty 345 feet of elevation (http://egsc.usgs.gov/isb//pubs/booklets/elvadist/elvadist.html). It’s a nice roadside attraction but doesn’t make for very scenic backpacking. Beaches turn from beauty to terror when a hurricane rolls around, making it a unique market for insurance and flood insurance especially.
In insurance terms, floods can be caused by water rising from lakes, rivers, tides, or from a whole lot of rain causing flash floods. It was rain that caused the flooding in Louisiana this year (see our Aug 30 blog entry for our firsthand experience). CNN reported 60,000 homes damaged, 6,900,000,000,000 gallons of rainfall in one week, and 13 deaths (http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/16/us/louisiana-flooding-by-the-numbers/index.html).
The easiest way to deal with a flood is to avoid it all together. Since there aren’t any mountains in Florida (notice the highest place in Florida is called a “hill”), there are techniques that can be used to lower the risk of flood damage, ranging from elevating the property to using sand bags and buckets, but thinking ahead is the best way to keep your head and feet above water.
Knowledge is the greatest preparation for a flood. Do you know what a flood zone is? Do you know which flood zone you’re in? FEMA categorizes land based on the risk that a flood can pose and has a handy search tool to find your address and see what flood risks are near you (https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search). A large section of Destin is designated Coastal Barrier zone, where flood insurance is sometimes completely unobtainable, including Kelly Plantation, Regatta Bay, and Emerald Bay neighborhoods. Homes here are often elevated and the roads designed to channel water to the bay or bayou.
When buying a home, condo, or commercial property, consider searching the address on the FEMA maps to get an idea of the flood zone it is in or around. If the home or business is located anywhere other than an X-zone (see map for details), lenders usually require you to insure the property for flood. See https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/ for more on the federal program and call our office to get a quote or find out more about your property. Our staff can offer you fantastic service, expertise in flood insurance, and provide many of your insurance needs!
Flood zones play a big part in the annual premium but it doesn’t necessarily predict where floods will occur. Think ahead in what home you purchase, plan how to protect it and its valuable contents, and keep your head above water when it matters most.
The views expressed here are the opinion of the author and do not attempt to make any recommendation for insurance coverage. Eligibility is determined by the insurance carrier and not all applicants will qualify. Please contact your licensed insurance agent regarding your area's coverage and eligibility.