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Going without flood insurance a big risk

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(WVUE) -

St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes now have federal disaster declarations.

President Obama added 16 additional parishes to the disaster declaration Tuesday, including flood-stricken North Shore communities near New Orleans. That is good news for many flood victims who will need government help to get back on their feet.

Whether floodwaters linger or have receded, lots of damage was left in their wake in parts of Southeast Louisiana, and many flood victims are without insurance coverage.

When Ouida Givens was asked whether her damaged home is covered by flood insurance she said, “No, ma'am."

Her neighbor, Cindy Smith, had the same answer.

“No, my husband don't have any on this. He owned this before we got married,” Smith said.

Their property is in the Bogue Chitto Heights neighborhood near the Bogue Chitto River in Washington Parish.

"I've been back here three, four years, and it's the first, me actually going through it,” Givens said.

Longtime insurance agent Dan Burghardt said no one should be complacent about flood risk, no matter where they live.

"We're surrounded by water, rivers crest, lakes overflow, bayous, it's just too risky,” he said.

Burghardt said 20 percent of all flood claims are in so-called low-risk zones.

"If you're in a low-risk zone, it's not required. I say think twice because a lot of the claims that are happening right now, especially on the North Shore, are in B, C, and X zones which is low risk,” Burghardt said.

He said mobile homes can be insured for flood damage, too.

"You sure can. It's advised even though you're mobile home is raised, still a lot of them are flooded out and flood insurance is available, and the rate is much lower because the higher you're elevation for the floor is the lower the rate for flood insurance,” Burghardt said.

The number of flood affected parishes in Louisiana having received the federal disaster declaration is now at 23.

According to a FEMA spokesperson, people in the affected areas should register their damage with FEMA if they have no insurance, or are under-insured.  They could be eligible for federal assistance. Call 1-800-621-3362.

"The first thing they require for you to get the loan is you've got to buy a flood policy, so what's the point, why wait until after you need it,” said Burghardt.
Hurricane season starts June 1, and in terms of what could happen in this area there are no guarantees.

"We're subjected to hurricanes, we're in a hurricane hit zone,” said Burghardt.

In areas at a lower risk for flooding premiums can be a few hundred dollars a year.

"Risk is everywhere, we get torrential rains,” Burghardt said.

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