By JAMES TWOMEY
Floodplain Zoning Administrator for Viola and Ontario
Matt Gabrielson, writing in the La Farge Episcope, advised that it was “never too early to be thinking about flooding.” His weather and climate page are essential reading in that newspaper.
Seasons with heavy rainfall have benefits for our pastures, our water tables, and our harvests. The flipside of the recent rain pattern is that additional rainfall is less likely to travel slowly underground and more likely to travel quickly into the streams and rivers of the Kickapoo Valley. This increases the risk of flood damage to buildings that might not have experienced flooding in the past. To cope with this increased risk, I would alter Matt’s suggestion to say, “It’s never too early to think about flood insurance.”
Village clerks and other leaders throughout the Kickapoo Valley work hard to meet the requirements to make the National Flood Insurance Program available to their citizens. It is quite a burden to meet DNR and FEMA guidelines for inspections, permits, and paperwork. However, there is a huge benefit: renters, homeowners, and businesses can purchase a flood insurance policy. Of course, insurance does not prevent flooding, but in the words of Michelle Staff of the DNR, “I promise you: in the aftermath of a flood, this insurance will make you whole.”
What she means is that you will have the fundsneeded to restore your property and to make it less likely to suffer damage in the future. You will have the funds to hire an engineer to make your building flood-proof, or relocated, or elevated, or to let it go entirely. Flood insurance changes theproperty owner from a victim waiting for a buyout to a captain of his or her own fate with options. The “ICC” portion of your insurance policy allows you to get a permit to bring your building up to code. This has the added benefit of reducing your insurance premiums in the future, reducing the risk of flood damage in the future, andincreasing the resale value of your property.
Call your insurance agent today to explore the options available to you. A flood event occurs about once every 10 years in the Kickapoo River valley. This means that your premiums are not just an additional household or business expense. In fact, they more closely resemble a savings account that you pay into with the certain knowledge that the funds will be there for a rainy day.
After all, rainy days are what we arecoping with here. The inconvenient truth is that although flood insurance is not cheap, it is the best opportunity to keep and to exercise local control. I believe it is also the best opportunity to keep our downtown business districts alive and attractive.