An ounce of prevention: Keep your home secure against spring storms
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Gracie Johnson
“April showers bring May flowers” as the saying goes, but spring weather in West Alabama is more likely to spawn phrases like “turn around, don’t drown” and “head to your safe place now because this tornado will kill people.”
So preparing for spring around here isn’t just about considering which vegetables you’ll plan this year or whether or not it’s time to start mowing. It’s about being prepared for massive storms and the problems they bring, like flooding, high winds and power outages.
“Flood issues are one of the main issues when it comes to severe weather,” said Tuscaloosa County Emergency Management Agency Deputy Director Tamara Kroom. “They caused $260 billion worth of damage in the United States alone, and 86 people have died within a year in the United States just because of flooding.”
The first thing to do is check whether or not you’re living in a flood zone. If you have a mortgage, you’ll have been informed at the time of the sale, or by mail if the zone changed since you moved. If you rent, you can look up your address on a flood zone map, like this one from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
If you have a mortgage and live in a flood plain, flood insurance is mandatory through the National Flood Insurance Program. It can range anywhere from $30 a month to several hundred dollars a month on top of your regular home insurance, mortgage and property taxes.
Anyone who owns their home outright isn’t required to carry home insurance, but without it you’ll be out of luck in case of disaster. And home insurance policies don’t cover flooding, so flood insurance is still a must-have if you’re in a flood zone.
For renters, it’s extra important to be aware of potential flooding and its associated costs. Renter’s insurance usually does not cover flood damage, so if you live in a flood zone consider asking your insurance company about adding flood insurance.
As for safety precautions, Kroom said there’s a lot you can do, but one thing is far more important.
“Anything that is going to help your house from getting flooded, sandbags, anything like that we do recommend, but I think the No. 1 thing you can do is have a plan,” said Kroom.
Things to include in your plan:
- How to communicate in case of emergency
- Where to go in case of emergency
- Make sure everyone knows the location of safety items like fire extinguishers, helmets, lights, etc.
- Make sure important documents are in a place that’s easy to reach in case of emergency, or outside the home in a secure location, like a safety deposit box at a bank
If you know your home is prone to flooding, Kroom said she recommends staying somewhere else when severe storms are rolling through. Homes can be rebuilt. Lives can’t.
You can learn more about ways to mitigate disaster damage to your home right here.