When my wife and I bought our first home, the last thing on our mind was that it could be damaged by a flood. After consulting with our realtor, our neighbors, and examining the impressive sump-pump system in the basement, we were pretty confident that a flood would not be a factor in damaging our home. Our neighbors had mentioned that the worst flooding in the last fifty years had not even made it to their garage and had caused minimal flooding in their basement. So, when asked if we needed flood insurance we laughed it off. Why waste money on flood insurance, if not only do floods never happen in our area, but only minor damages would occur?
After six years of living in our home, we did not have a drop of water in our basement. We had endured some issues with the roof and an ice dam, but the basement had been untouched. That all changed in February when an unusually large snowstorm occurred. At first, this was just a nuisance, but then the rain kept coming.
My wife and I had set our washer and dryer on two-foot tall pallets for protection and lined about fifty sandbags around the property. I had checked the two sump-pumps (the main one and an emergency backup), and they had both seemed to be working fine. After working a half day, I came back to monitor the situation in case the sump-pumps stopped working.
When I got back from work, our basement had about two-and-a-half feet of standing water with more coming in by the second. I had no idea what to do. I had already moved a few possessions upstairs and other items to a higher shelf in the middle of the basement. The water had risen so high the items on the shelf were now floating in the water. What do I do first? I had many belongings that needed to be moved immediately, all while water was now gushing through a couple of very small holes in the house’s frame. Even though everything seemed fine from the outside, the basement was getting destroyed as the water table continued to rise. I first decided to figure out a way to pump out all the extra water.
With my neighbor’s help, I was able to procure an emergency sump pump to sit on the basement floor. With a large hose attached to it, the plan was to pump the water out about 50 feet beyond the foundation of the house. The pump worked, but the joy was short-lived. When I looked against the wall, I realized the water was so high it was hovering near an electrical outlet which the freezer was still plugged into. What an oversight on my part! I thought I had already unplugged the appliances the night before as a precaution. It was a miracle I wasn’t electrocuted.
Though the water was being pumped out, I began to realize after a few minutes the water was not going down fast enough. Looking at the holes on the other side of the basement, I began to understand that the water was coming in so fast that it was counteracting the pumping. Not to mention, there were still items that needed to be removed from the basement as soon as possible. I laughed and thought, “This was a calculus related rates problem. However, I didn’t have time to find dV/dt; I needed more hose and another sump pump!” Later that evening, the water level was down, but the clean-up and the evaluation of the thousands of dollars of damages had just started.
Even if a flood hasn’t occurred in over fifty years and your home isn’t in a flood zone, you’re still at risk. Personal Flood Insurance would have provided the protection we desperately needed. Instead of taking out loans to pay for the damage, Personal Flood Coverage could have protected us from the most common residential flooding losses. Talk to your independent agent today to see if you qualify for Personal Flood Coverage. That “500-year flood” could happen at any time. Don’t be sunk after it’s too late.
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