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Flood Awareness Week: What homeowners should know about the risks

PITTSBURGH — You’re more likely to experience a flood in your home in Pennsylvania than you are a house fire.

This is flood awareness week and state leaders say homes and businesses are becoming more at-risk.

All of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have seen destructive flooding, yet just about 1% of households in the state are insured against flooding.

“We normally equate the biggest risk in the spring because that’s when we see the most precipitation”, says PEMA Director Randy Padfield, “but it really can happen anytime.”

State officials have been studying five decades of weather and flood data and believe climate change is speeding up the need for more people to get insured against flooding.

“There is a steadily increasing risk of severe precipitation events”, says Padfield, “and that’s what we’re seeing most likely or most common nowadays.”

Padfield is part of a state task force focused on raising awareness and finding ways to reduce flood insurance costs.

In recent years, FEMA revised its flood maps, which require that flood insurance be obtained for more Pennsylvania properties.

As a result, many Pennsylvanians are struggling to afford the rising premiums.

But even worse is the cost of not having it.

“One inch of water can equate to $25,000 worth of damage”, says Padfield.

State officials say federal disaster assistance is becoming harder to get, and more areas are being impacted, with more than 90% of flooding events now happening outside of special flood hazard zones.

“We’ve heard it from people when we go out to these disasters, they say it’s never flooded here before or it’s never been like this”, says Padfield.

A standard homeowner’s or renter’s policy does not cover flood damage.

It takes 30 days for a new flood policy to go into effect.

For more information, click here.

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