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MAINE EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY
From the Director: March Means Flood Season -- Again
March 8, 2010
March means the start of spring flood season in Maine, right?
Well, as of the first of March this year, Maine has already had two major floods. At the end of January, a sudden warm-up and rain storm lifted stream flows all over the state. As stream flows rose, river ice began to move. In Oxford, Franklin, Piscataquis and Kennebec Counties ice jams formed that not only caused flooding that weekend, but froze in place and created headaches that lasted for weeks.
Then at the end of February, a violent storm brought heavy rain and flooding to southern Maine, causing major damage.
Anytime too much rain falls in the wrong places, we get flooding in Maine. It’s our number one hazard, both in terms of frequency and damage caused. We’ve gotten pretty good at responding to it, but we could do a whole lot better preparing for it, as families, business owners and communities as a whole.
Individuals and Families:
Bring prepared for any disaster will help you and family weather the storm. But will your home make it through a flood? The number one thing all of us can do to protect the investment in our homes is to buy flood insurance.
Yes, it’s an added expense. But having insurance means you can get your home repaired even if other disaster assistance is not available. Talk to your insurance agent today. You can add flood insurance even if you don’t live in a special flood hazard area.
You can find much more information at FEMA’s FloodSmart website, Floodsmart.gov.
In Maine we have a good rate of community participation in the National Flood Insurance Program. At a minimum, program participation ensures that every resident and business owner in your town is able to purchase flood insurance.
NFIP participation also ensures that your town will be eligible for mitigation grants. These grants have paid out millions of dollars in projects that will reduce flood risk for years to come in eligible communities in Maine.
NFIP participation also means your town is eligible to take advantage of the Community Rating System. The more a community does toward good floodplain management, the more points they can get toward reducing the flood insurance premiums for its citizens. For each 500 points earned, the community qualifies for a 5% reduction in the premiums paid by purchasers of flood insurance. There are 18 activities that communities can do to reduce the flood risk in their town.
If you like the idea of reducing insurance costs for new (and prospective) businesses and residents, call or visit the State Floodplain Management Program at (207) 287-3261 or 1-800-662-4545 (in state only).
The advice to invest in flood insurance coverage applies to businesses as well as families. Did you know that as little as 6 inches of floodwater in your office or shop may cause over $11,000 in damages? Visit Floodsmart.gov to measure your risk.
In the last few years we have seen flooding in areas that had not seen problems in a long time. Just because water hasn’t lapped at your doorstep in your memory, doesn’t mean that it won’t, next year or next month.
Disaster assistance for businesses after a flood or any major disaster typically comes in the form of low-interest loans. For many small businesses, even low-interest loans create a burden they cannot afford to take on. By contrast, being adequately insured for all hazards, including floods, puts you in control of your business’s recovery.
Even if you are not located in a flood-prone area, maybe your suppliers or some major customers are. Your emergency planning needs to include looking at the risk to those folks, as well as to your own location. Visit Maine Prepares and get started on your plan.
And if your town does not participate in the Community Rating System of the National Flood Insurance Program, ask them why! It could save you 5% or more in flood insurance premiums.
It Happens Here
Flooding is a fact of life in Maine. Yet I have too often heard, “I never thought it could happen here.”
That storm at the end of February also dumped over two feet of snow in the mountains, where our major rivers begin. Another rain storm, in the mountains this time, could turn all that snow to water, flowing into the rivers and getting us wet for a third time this year.
Flood season is whenever it rains too much at the wrong time in the wrong places. And it’s up to all of us to be prepared, not surprised, when the waters rise.
Thoughts? Let me know.
Rob McAleer, Director, Maine Emergency Management Agency
Last update: 07/20/10
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