FEMA Wants W.Va. Residents at Risk from Spring Flooding to Check Insurance Options

Mar 13, 2019

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is urging West Virginians to prepare for flooding this spring.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice has designated March 18-22 as Severe Weather Awareness Week. FEMA says properties along waterways like the Elk River in Charleston are especially at risk.

David Maurstad is in charge of FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. He’s urging residents to speak with their property insurance agent to make sure they’re prepared for the risk associated with spring flooding.

“A lot of people think their homeowner’s, or renter’s policy, or small-business policy covers them for flood damage, and normally it doesn’t,” he said.

Maurstad said people should also be aware that most flood insurance has a 30-day waiting period before a policy goes into effect. So, if property owners are interested in buying supplemental insurance, they should do it sooner than later.

Many victims of the severe flooding that hit southern West Virginia in 2016 were frustrated that FEMA emergency grants didn’t cover the cost of rebuilding their homes.

“The average grant is in the neighborhood of $5,000-$6,000, and so no, it’s not going to repair one’s home from flood damage and it’s really not intended to do that,” Maurstad said.

He said that’s why property owners should investigate their flood-insurance options, just as they would for vehicle or homeowner liability insurance.