TO FLOOD, OR NOT TO FLOOD
It will be spring in no time, and with the current flurry of sales on the water, I’m receiving many questions regarding flood plains, what that means to buyers and sellers, how that affects your home owner’s insurance rates, and what each flood zone determination means with regards to the flood risk of a particular property. I’ll start you on the right path to understanding the basics of the subject and have a few links attached within the blog that can take you further along, if you so choose.
We live in an area of abundant water, in the form of rivers, lakes, creeks, ponds, and high water tables. One of the first items to note is that water which rises up through the water table and ends up intruding into your home from your basement or underneath your crawlspace isn’t typically considered flood water for the purposes of flood zones and insurance ratings or coverage. Rivers and streams that burst their banks and cause surface water to flow freely from on top of the ground and into your home are considered flood damaging, and there are many variations for other flood waters. This is why it’s somewhat confusing to know what the flood issue may be on a particular home. To determine that, the simplest, most cohesive way to quickly find out if a particular home is in a flood plain, is to contact your home owner's insurance agent, and ask him to do a flood certification. These run about $20-$25, and are the most confident way to find out if the home lies in a high-risk area. If you want to search it on your own, you can search the address via this link, provided by FEMA:
It will give you the basic information, and let you know within seconds if there may be an issue there. To understand what a particular zone means in terms of flood risk, visit this site, which explains the different determinations:
Something I hear often is agents assuring buyers that the place hasn’t flooded in years and never will. I smile to myself and think how foolish to make such a statement, as rivers change course, land shifts, and we have no control over Mother Nature and how she shapes her waterways. My advice to anyone living within close proximity to rivers and streams, is to assume that someday their property may eventually flood, someday a river bank may collapse, someday the river may grow considerably, shrink, or change course due to unforeseen log jams and other natural occurrences. Lakes and ponds have a lesser chance of flooding, but can and do, especially if they are man-made and/or dammed, so be aware of where you buy, and what the water source truly is.
All that said, there’s something special about living on the water. There is a profound peace and serenity, a divine cleansing that takes place as the water sways and flows within itself, so don’t shy away. Be prudent with your choices, do your homework, find that beautiful spot with the cerulean blue staring back at you, sit back, and enjoy. They’re not making any more waterfront, so treat it carefully and respectfully, and it will give you and your family a lifetime of joy and memories!