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  • North Carolina Floods at Record Levels Following Hurricane Matthew

    flooded-street-in-nc-fema-photo North Carolina Floods North Carolina Floods - Photo courtesy of FEMA

    Hurricane Matthew brought torrential rain to the Southeast and, days later, flooding is still as high as ever. In Lumberton, N.C., the flood waters stretch on for 3 miles down certain streets. Princeville, N.C. was devastated by Hurricane Floyd back in 1999; today those memories come flooding back as water levels rise to heights not seen since Floyd.

    “We’re going to have to rebuild a town,” said Princeville’s mayor.

    The worst, however, is likely over, although that doesn’t necessarily mean the flooding will be done quickly. Many of the rivers in North Carolina are still cresting at record-breaking heights, and although the water levels should be dropping soon, major flooding is remains likely for many days. Fortunately, there is no rain forecast in the near future.

    Hurricane Matthew’s destructive wind and storms came and went, but the lasting effects linger on. Even those out of the path of the storm are experiencing heavy flooding. In Georgia, for example, many people were told that because they didn’t live in a flood plain, they didn’t need flood insurance.

    How wrong they were.

    Despite living in an area not known for flooding, countless people lost tens of thousands of dollars due to flood damage. The thing about disasters is, you never can tell when one will affect you. Those affected by floods in a non-flood plain certainly weren’t expecting it. They were even out of range of the hurricane.

    When preparing for disaster, it’s wise to prepare for every scenario. Sure, some areas can rule out certain disasters, such as a hurricane hitting Utah, but what about tornadoes? Yes, they are rare, but just recently Utah experienced three tornadoes in two days. Rare doesn’t mean impossible, and being prepared for all possibilities is essential for bouncing back after a crisis.


    Disaster_Blog_Banner North Carolina Floods

  • Comparing Hurricane Katrina with the Louisiana Flood

    Hurricane Katrina - Flooding in Venice, LA - Louisiana Flood Flooding in Venice, LA from Hurricane Katrina

    Today, exactly 11 years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and parts of the Gulf Coast, Louisiana residents are cleaning up from another storm that was far worse than everyone expected.

    At least 100,000 homes were affected in a once-in-1,000-year flood. At least 13 people were killed. Emergency managers said it was the most devastating natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

    The Louisiana floods have many parallels with Hurricane Katrina.

    First, both were worse than expected.

    Hurricane Katrina was expected to be dangerous. The day before it hit, August 28, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin ordered the city’s first-ever mandatory evacuation. An estimated 80 percent of the New Orleans metro area evacuated. However, no one, including the Army Corps of Engineers who built the city’s levee system, expected nearly every levee to fail.

    The storm that slammed southeast Louisiana was an easterly wave, a “hurricane without the winds,” as Barry Keim, Louisiana State Climatologist, told Popular Science.

    The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for the area on August 10, saying up to 10 inches was possible.

    That was a slight understatement. In two days, NWS gauges measured 21.86 inches of rain.

    Louisiana Flood - via NPR Louisiana Flood, 2016 - via NPR

    “If this was a tropical storm or a hurricane that actually had a National Hurricane Center name attached to it, it probably would have gotten a whole lot more attention as it approached over here," Keim told Popular Science.

    In fact, the New York Times later apologized for its delayed interest in the flooding.

    Second, not that many people had flood insurance. Flooding is usually not covered by regular homeowner’s insurance but must be bought separately.

    Before Hurricane Katrina, there were about 360,000 flood insurance policies in Louisiana, according to Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon in a story by the Shreveport Times. After Katrina, the number of policies jumped to 490,000 in 2008. It’s at 450,000 now, which only represents about 21 percent of homes.

    About 75 percent of the people whose homes were damaged in the flood didn’t have flood insurance.  Almost half of the people who live in a high risk area in Louisiana have flood insurance, according to FEMA, but only 12 percent outside the high risk zone have it. A high risk zone is defined by the National Flood Insurance Program as an area with at least a 1 in 4 chance of flooding during a 30-year mortgage. About a third of homes that flood in Louisiana every year are outside the high risk flood zone, David LaCombe of UDB Insurance in Alexandria told the Shreveport Times.

    When the president declares a major disaster, as he did for Louisiana, the Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a maximum of $33,000 per household for disaster relief.

    “Even if you only have 3 or 4 inches of water in your home, it could still cost you $40,000 to $50,000 to replace the sheet rock, replace the flooring and all that sort of stuff,” LaCombe told the Shreveport Times.

    Louisiana Flood Only 25% of flood-damaged homes were covered by flood insurance - Image via Insurance Journal

    “I think everyone in Louisiana should have flood insurance,” Melissa Becker, assistant director and flood-plain manager for the Rapides Area Planning Commission, told the Shreveport Times.

    After Hurricane Katrina, many businesses and government entities struggled to reach evacuated and missing employees. The hurricane displaced more than a million people, the largest such migration in U.S. history. Infrastructure was destroyed. Total damage cost $108 billion.

    In Louisiana’s flooded area, 22 school districts closed, according to the Washington Post. Some schools are flooded, but the greater problem is finding school personnel. One district superintendent was living in a shelter on August 21, and an estimated 4,000 employees were displaced by the flooding. As of August 22, 2,800 people were still living in shelters in the Baton Rouge area alone.

    We’re just entering the height of Atlantic hurricane season. Right now, Hurricane Gaston is churning about 575 miles east southeast of Bermuda, but is expected to weaken without making landfall anywhere.

    However, two tropical depressions, which could possibly organize into tropical storms, formed Sunday. One is about 60 miles south of Key West, Fla., and is expected to hit Florida and move into the Gulf of Mexico. Another, which meteorologists have been following for several days, formed in the Atlantic west of Bermuda and is on track to bring heavy rain to North Carolina.

    The best thing anyone can do before a hurricane is prepare emergency kits and financial information, have flood insurance and be able to evacuate.

    “You’re still going to have the homes under water," Keim told Popular Science. "You can’t move the homes, but you can move the people.”


    Hurricane_Blog_Banner - Louisiana Flood

  • Louisiana Flood Breaks Records, Displaces Thousands

    The Southern states have been getting pummeled by rain, causing massive flooding and endangering countless thousands.



    Louisiana Flood - via USA Today Louisiana Flood - via USA Today

    Over 40,000 homes have been affected by the flooding in Louisiana. More than 11,000 people are now homeless in the state. At least nine people are dead. And now, it seems like things will only get worse before they improve.

    More rain is expected this week, according to a local report, which could make the flooding situation even worse. Although the rivers have started to fall in their water levels, the Amite River reached a high of 46.2 feet, rising above the 29-foot flood stage, beating out its previous record by 6 feet in one area. More rain would certainly make things unbearable.

    These floods came from days of constant, torrential rain. A federal emergency was declared, and now 10,000 people are in shelters. Since the flooding began, over 30,000 people have been rescued from the floods.

    As flood waters continue downstream, worry grows for areas south of Baton Rouge. With so much rain, it could push the floods further past that area, creating more problems for those downstream.

    Aside from the Louisiana flood, which has received the more brunt of damage and high waters, a few other states are experiencing their own woes.



    Flash flooding did some major damage to some locations in Mississippi, including the town of Crosby, where water washed away one man’s home. Dozens of people have been displaced, with homes now drenched in three feet of water.



    But it’s not just Louisiana that’s being threatened by floods. Texas has also been experiencing heavy rainfall. Fortunately, no flooding has yet been reported, although flash flooding could be a major issue.


    Flooding is an issue to all states, so no matter where you live, check out your flood risk at floodsmart.gov and take the necessary precautions to countering floods. And remember, if you do plan on getting flood insurance, most plans will take 30 days to come in effect, so don’t wait until it’s too late!


    Disaster_Blog_Banner louisiana flood

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