Local News

North Carolina flood insurance policies continue to decrease

Posted July 25, 2019 6:02 p.m. EDT
Updated July 26, 2019 2:45 p.m. EDT

— Roughly one-third of North Carolina homes in floodplains have flood insurance, and the number of policies is actually decreasing, according to a report by the Associated Press before Hurricane Florence hit the state.

From 1996 to 2016, Wake County reported 88 floods, higher than coastal counties like New Hanover and Brunswick, which reported 79 and 46 respectively, and second to Mecklenburg County.

The numbers speak for themselves: It's something everyone should consider getting.

Brenda and Pat Flowers', a couple from Harnett County, home was damaged from unexpected flooding from Hurricane Florence, costing nearly $60,000 to rebuild.

"Most young people would say it ain't going to flood, so we ain't going to get the insurance and that's what happens," Pat Flowers said. "I would have said the same thing."

Pat Flowers said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and neighbors helped to pay for some of their damages, but most of the funding came out of his savings.

Ron Roth, a spokesman for FEMA, said flood insurance is the first line of defense for homeowners. Despite providing a safety net, the federal flood insurance database shows policies in North Carolina dropped between 2012 and 2017. However, data from the state shows policy numbers started going up again in the wake of Hurricanes Matthew and Florence.

Flood insurance policies cost nearly $700 each year, and more than 100,000 flood insurance claims have been filed in North Carolina. Nearly three-quarters of which were closed with payment, totaling $1.84 billion in residential and commercial losses.

"We can't expect the government, the city, the county or the state to meet all our unmet needs," Roth said. "We need to be proactive and take some responsibility ourselves."

Brenda Flowers said experiencing a flood in the past has changed her mind about having flood insurance.

"When you're not in a flood zone you normally don't need flood insurance," she said. "When you see a cloud coming and you see the rain starting you think 'I can't go through this again.'"