Mississippi flooding has come again--historic, unprecedented, with all Nature's fury. In a rolling catastrophe like this, first comes the water, then come the rescues. Then the insurance claims.
By any measure, the situation along the Mississippi is grave and about to get worse. Water is cresting at or above flood levels.
At Natchez, Miss., for instance, Mississippi flooding reached a record 58.3 feet, and is expected to crest at 64 feet. Flood stage there is 48 feet. At Vicksburg, Miss., the National Weather Service projects the river will rise to 57.5 feet on May 19th. Flood stage there is 43 feet, reports the Washington Post.
At Baton Rouge, the river ran this morning at 42.4 feet. Flood stage is 35 feet. At New Orleans, the river ran exactly at 17-foot flood stage, and is forecast to crest at 19.5 feet on May 23rd. Levees protect the city to 20 feet. Six inches to spare, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Short of building an ark, what's a homeowner to do?
Most homeowner insurance policies do not automatically cover damages caused by natural disasters. If you want to protect your home financially from floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes, you'll need to purchase flood insurance that is specific to those events.
But some private insurance companies won't provide coverage for natural disasters, even if you're willing to pay extra. So you may need to go to the National Flood Insurance Program, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.
And physical danger remains after the waters recede, ABC News reports. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers health tips for homeowners who are digging out after a flood, including keys to avoiding water-borne bacteria; cleaning a home to prevent growth of toxic mold; avoiding raw sewage contamination, and securing septic systems and private wells, reports ABC.
Mark Twain wrote: "One who knows the Mississippi will promptly aver ... that ten thousand River Commissions cannot tame that lawless stream, cannot curb it or confine it, cannot say to it, Go here, or Go there, and make it obey."
If Mississippi flooding is inevitable--all we can do is protect ourselves with as much prevention, insurance and common sense as we can muster. And hope the Mississippi flood waters recede quickly. Or maybe move to the mountains. And always, we know we can rely on Americans' inherent strength against adversity.
- The National Flood Insurance Program (FEMA)
- United States Code Chapter 50: National flood insurance (U.S. Code)
- How the Emergency National Flood Insurance Program Works (FindLaw)
- Myths and Facts About hte National Flood Insurance Program (FEMA)
- Flood Recovery: Safety Issues and Flood Insurance (FindLaw)