3/18/2014 - Recalling historic flooding events for Flood Safety Awareness Week
This week ushers in a bit of good news and bad news: We're less than a week away from the official start of spring but we're also embarking on a time of the year that often brings flooding due to heavy rains and melting snow.
The third week of March is Flood Safety Awareness Week, a time where businesses, homeowners and renters are encouraged to become more fully informed about high water levels that illustrate why it's the top natural disaster in the United States, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Though floods have the potential to take place throughout the year, this week also coincides with some of the more damaging flood events in U.S. history.
In mid-March 1993, for example, nearly half of the U.S. was hit by a hurricane. Rare for this time of year, the weather system was primarily a snow event the farther north it got, but in the Atlantic south, the storm produced over 90 mph winds, storm surge and even reports of tornadoes touching down, according to the National Weather Service. This may help explain why it's since been dubbed the "Storm of the Century."
So significant were the winds and precipitation that accompanied the once-in-a-lifetime event, storm surge levels were as high as 12 feet. Additionally wind gusts were clocked in excess of 100 mph in some parts of the Atlantic region, NWS data shows.
Flooding pounded Los Angeles 75 years ago
The West Coast has seen its fair share of wild weather in March as well, such as what happened in Los Angeles in 1938. As media reports noted at the time, the storm began on Feb. 27, but didn't officially exit until several days into March. By the time the drenching rain finally ceased, severe flooding was left in its wake, accompanied by the loss of life and severe infrastructure damage.
While scientific advancements and greater awareness have helped make flooding easier to deal with and recover from, it's still one of the more devastating catastrophes in Mother Nature's arsenal. This is why safety officials encourage property owners to review their insurance plans to consider adding a flood insurance policy.
Earlier this year, FEMA advised Americans to start off the year on the right foot by reviewing their insurance plans. By doing so, policyholders can get a better idea of what protections they have in place, helping them determine whether additional coverage may be needed, such as for flooding.
It's important to keep in mind that there is a 30-day grace period for flood coverage, meaning that it doesn't kick in until a month after purchase. Thus, it's essential to inquire about these plans sooner rather than later.