People are experiencing incredible rain all around the Midwest. Each week, there are new images of submerged cars, courageous rescues, flooded intersections, and houses with water pouring in the windows. A picture on Twitter showed a Jacuzzi floating down the road. I think we have had two 500-year rain events in a month in the Jeffersonville area. Amazing!
Someone will be responsible!
With these extreme rain events, hundreds of emails and phone calls are ‘flooding’ in from all parts of the community. Most people are asking the same question either in-person or online (mostly Facebook):
- My car / house / shed / fence was underwater. Who will pay for my damage?
People ask the question in various ways. Some demand payment, others threaten lawsuit, a few ask for basic assistance (could we please check out the drains), others ask questions about where to purchase sandbags or cleaning supplies. Some are furious, while others just want to get back to their normal routine.
However, there is one quote that is gets casually tossed around by the angry folks:
“Someone will be responsible!”
“Someone will pay!”
Who is this “Someone” person?! I have yet to meet anyone with this name, but they sure do have a lot to answer for…perhaps they are referring to Mother Nature?
An unpopular answer
If you have a flood insurance policy, then your insurance company will be responsible to help you with your loss. Otherwise, 9 times out of 10, the property owner is responsible for their private loss. Unless someone can show some type of negligence by a community (perhaps the Drainage Department or Street Department failed to remove some crazy logjam), I think there is little chance that a community will reimburse people for their loss. However, I am not an attorney. I could be wrong.
Overall, I think it seems unreasonable for people to assume that anyone can plan to handle that amount of water. Most communities only have building standards for the 100-year rain event. Installing a bigger pipe will definitely not solve the problem.
The probability is what?
There are many statistics floating around out there, but there is one that people do not hear enough about. A house with a 30 year mortgage in the 100-year floodplain has a 26% chance of experiencing a flood and only a 9% chance of a fire. People usually have insurance for a fire, but very rarely for a flood.
FEMA considers everyone to live in a flood zone, with a low, moderate, or high level of risk. According to Floodsmart.gov, the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program, floods are the #1 natural disaster in the United States. Approximately 25% of flood insurance claims are made for structures in a low to moderate risk area.
You just don’t understand
Yes, I get it. Flooding is a real bummer. During the severe rain event we had last weekend, I lost power twice, once in the evening for three hours and again at 3 a.m. for six hours. During those times, water was pouring into my basement sump pit and in a window well, so I ran two sump pumps off my battery backup system I have ready in the basement. I had to go outside and bail water out of the window well several times during the lightning storm before I could get my backup sump pump installed in it. I stayed up most the night so I could manage the massive amount of water hammering my sump pump system. I was super tired.
Was it fun? No. Was I prepared for an emergency? Yes. Would anyone have paid me for any damages that occurred? No. I do not have flood insurance. It is my personal decision not to carry flood insurance for my home.
The flood finale
It has been an epic summer. I think it rained 5 days straight last week, took a day off, and rained again the following day. We are easily on track to have the wettest July and summer on record. While I completely understand and have empathy for everyone that is suffering property damage, I am not sure that the local government entities are responsible for everyone’s loss. Natural disasters happen, and local government is part of the team that helps rebuild so everyone can get back to their regular daily routine.