Just a year since Hurricane Ike Ã¢â‚¬“ the third most costly hurricane in U.S. history Ã¢â‚¬“ hit coastal communities in Texas with a powerful storm surge, a new study by the Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) says government minimum flood elevation requirements for Gulf Coast properties vulnerable to storm surge are woefully inadequate. Its report on property damage caused by Hurricane Ike finds that many properties are not built high enough to withstand storm surges. The IBHS study questions the current basis for elevating properties along the Gulf Coast and urges the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to provide greater incentives for building well above the minimum elevations now in place. As well as providing flood insurance, the NFIP establishes base flood elevation (BFE) levels for properties. All but a handful of properties located closest to the coast on the Bolivar Peninsula, Texas and even built to the highest elevation requirements, were washed away during Hurricane Ike. By contrast, the study found that 10 homes on the Bolivar Peninsula designed and built under the IBHS FortifiedÃ¢â‚¬ ¦for safer living program, survived the storm with minor damage. The Fortified homes had outdoor decks at 18 feet that were destroyed, but the homes themselves which were elevated to 26 feet, survived. According to IBHS, most homes in coastal areas are built to or slightly above 100-year BFEs. Ã¢â‚¬Å“A 100-year flood means that the level of flood water has a 1 percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any single year. However, it is well recognized in the engineering community that coastal homes built to this level have a 26 percent chance of being flooded or demolished over the life of a 30-year mortgage,Ã¢â‚¬ says IBHS Chief Engineer Dr. Tim Reinhold. Check out I.I.I. information on flood insurance.
Legislation that would extend the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) through March 31, 2010, was introduced in the House late last week. The NFIP is currently set to expire September 30, 2009. Check outÃ‚ a July 10 online article at Insurance JournalÃ‚ for more on this story. At the end of 2008, the NFIP had some 5.7 million policies in force. The average premium for an annual flood insuranceÃ‚ policy is around $542, yet a 2008 poll by the I.I.I. found that only 17 percent of Americans have a flood insurance policy. Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on flood insurance.