Hurricanes derive their strength from ocean temperatures, so it's typically coastal residents that bear the brunt of storm-related damage. But even those who live well inland need to be mindful that they too can be affected by Mother Nature's wrath, especially when it comes to flooding.
1 in 5 flood claims come from low-risk areas
History has proven this to be the case. Between 1970 and 1999, inland flooding has been responsible for more than 50% of all deaths related to tropical storms and hurricanes, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. In fact, close to 20% of all flood claims derive from moderate- to low-risk areas.
Jeff Dobur, a senior hydrologist at the Georgia branch for the National Weather Service, pointed out that the damage that occurs well away from the seas is often substantial.
"From what the past has shown, damage from inland flooding caused by these storms can often times run well into the billions of dollars - especially when a major metropolitan area is impacted," said Dobur.
As an example, Dobur referenced Hurricane Dennis, which struck the Atlantic coast in 2005. He mentioned how a slight shift in the track of the weather system drenched far northwest Florida and northern Mississippi, sparing coastal residents from the type of impact that was first predicted.
Every state has seen flooding in last five years
The topography of the Earth is such that you don't necessarily have to live near a body of water to be in a high-risk flood zone. In these areas, there's a 1 in 4 chance that residents will be affected by flooding over a period of 30 years, according to FEMA statistics. And in the last five years, all 50 states have seen some degree of flooding.
Since 2003, flood insurance claim payments have averaged about $4 billion per year.
"Hurricanes of any strength and even tropical storms can be life-threatening; particularly due to the dangers of water - both storm surges on the coasts and river flooding from heavy rains many miles inland," said Knabb.
If you don't already have flood insurance, now's the time to get a policy. There's a 30-day waiting period for coverage to go into effect, so the sooner you secure a policy the better.
For more information on the different plans available, speak with your local Selective agent.