Flood Times | Urban Living

Flood Times

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If you were born before 1983, you weren't around to see the lines of people on State Street in Salt Lake City, passing sand bags to one another and stacking them in an attempt to control floodwaters from City Creek Canyon (see News, p. 12). Downtown State Street was a river, as were many other streets (1300 South comes to mind). It was a mess. Folks rallied to help stave the waters, or else kayaked for photo ops. Some even threw fishing lines from the "banks" of sidewalks to catch wild trout. These floods occured because we had one massive, wet winter in 1982, and by the following Memorial Day, all hell broke loose as the snowpack melted and ran into the valley.

We have just gone through another extreme winter and the wettest March possibly ever, which means we might again have flooding in the Salt Lake Valley. Other areas to the north already have seen the havoc of Mother Nature—Logan, Plain City, Bear River City, etc. It's time to ask: Do you have flood insurance? Do you need it?

Your best bet is to call your insurance agent and find out. Most people do not have it because they don't live in a flood zone. Federal maps show where these zones are located in every city and state, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) can help people who live in those areas. Let's say you own a $350,000 home near a creek in Holladay. You weren't required by your mortgage lender to get flood insurance at the closing of escrow because it wasn't in a flood zone. With an NFIP policy, you would only be able to get $250,000 of building coverage and up to $100,000 of personal property coverage. If you wanted more, you'd have to turn to the private insurance sources.

My insurance agent, Jon Jepsen with SentryWest, tells me that premiums range from $400 to more than $8,000 per year; thus, it's impossible to offer an accurate quote on coverage for a $350,000 home without knowing more details. However, he says the waiting period for the NFIP is 30 days, and 10-15 days through private insurers in Utah.

In other words, when is that creek going to overflow? Will it damage your home? Do you have insurance, and when will it kick in if you need it or order it today? The flood of '83 happened on Memorial Day weekend—which is about seven weeks away; just sayin'.

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