An interagency meeting was hosted in Fairview Wednesday, Aug. 7, to inform those who suffered flood damage last spring of some options for current assistance and future prevention. Hosting the meeting were Faye Carlson, City of Fairview; Nadene Wadsworth, floodplain mapping outreach for Montana; Dionne Haynes, North Dakota State National Flood Insurance Coordinator (NFIP); and Traci Sears, Montana NFIP coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.
Here are three take-aways from the informative meeting:
1. Assess individual preparedness. Sears encouraged residents on both sides of the state line to seek flood plain maps and understand how to be better prepared for the next flood event. NFIP requires the lowest floor of structure built in Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) to be at or above basic flood elevations (BFE). Things like freeboard lift structures up, so the lowest floor would be 1 foot or more above BFE.
Sears used the town of Roundup as an example, which hadn’t seen a flood since the 1940s. Upon compliance with NFIP, two homes had to get federally backed flood insurance and meet a 3-foot freeboard requirement.
“Every time we went to Roundup we would get yelled at for how stupid this program was,” she said. “They had two back-to-back 500-year flood events. The first flood that hit, they didn’t believe it was coming… They hadn’t seen that flooding. Since 2011, Roundup has seen four floods. Those homes that got hit in 2011 were under water for three weeks… Those two folks who had flood insurance were fixed within three weeks. The other ones are still working on mitigation. That’s since 2011.”
2. Assistance for flood events. There are many myths surrounding flood insurance for homeowners.
NFIP is available to homes located in a high-risk flood plain.
NFIP can be purchased any time, before, during or after a flood event. Homeowners are still eligible for flood insurance after the home has been flooded, provided the community participates in NFIP.
NFIP offers basement coverage.
Federal disaster assistance will not always pay for flood damage. In fact, only 50 percent of flood events are declared disasters.
NFIP does cover flooding resulting from overflow of rivers.
3. Purchase flood insurance. In McKenzie County, only two communities are NFIP compliant, preventing many flood victims from obtaining NFI. Richland County is a participant in NFIP. NFIP policies average around $700 annually. While it does require community participation, communities can also opt out of the NFIP program at any time. Sears reiterated that all areas are susceptible to flooding — everyone lives in a flood plain. About 25 percent of NFIP’s claims come from outside high-flood risk areas.
For more information on NFIP, Montana residents can contact Traci Sears at 406-444-6654. McKenzie County residents can contact Dionne Haynes at 701-328-4961.