Madison County recommends purchasing flood insurance

March 26, 2019

MADISON COUNTY − After looking at this year’s heavy snow pack, the county is recommending that residents purchase flood insurance.

Bradley J. Petersen, the Planning and Zoning Administrator, said that areas of concern include the snowpack accumulated at Henry’s Fork, Teton and the Snake Basin above the palisades. He said that there could be some contribution from the Medicine Lodge near Beaver Camas.

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the Upper Snake River System is at 86 percent of capacity, with Henry’s Lake at 96 percent full, the Palisades at 83 percent, American Falls at 93 percent, and with Jackson Lake at 79 percent. And not all the snow has melted.

Petersen said he doesn’t want to scare anyone but buying flood insurance now could save money in the future. He said that once flood insurance is purchased, there is a 30-day waiting period for it to go into effect.

According to documents from FEMA, insurance can cover up to $250,000 worth of damage to the building structure for residents and up to $100,000 in coverage for damaged furniture and belongings. For businesses, the building coverage could be up to $500,000.

“No home is completely safe from potential flooding,” said Maureen O’Shea, State FEMA National Flood Insurance Program Coordinator. “Flood insurance can be the difference between recovering and being financially devastated. Just one inch of water in a home can cost more than $25,000 in damage — why risk it?”

O’Shea said that homeowners and renters insurance typically doesn’t cover flood damage and more than 20 percent of people affected by floods don’t live in a high risk area.

Petersen encourages residents to purchase insurance now rather than later before they get zoned into a floodplain. He said the floodplain map has to be reevaluated and there will be disputes and changes and no one is guaranteed to be put in one but it is a possibility. He said insurance may be cheaper to purchase while out of a floodplain.

Petersen also said that the last major floods that the area has seen weren’t within the floodplain and were caused by storms.

“Mother Nature doesn’t follow floodplain maps,” Petersen said.