Spring flooding: Hoping for perfect won’t prepare you

Feb. 27, 2020

Homes surrounded by floodwater

Last weekend, throughout most of Minnesota, temperatures got to the 40s during the day. Wasn’t it wonderful to feel the sun on your face? That melting snow is one of the first signs of spring, and it will be here before we know it.

But melting snow – especially coupled with even a normal amount of spring precipitation – can bring flooding with it. And we’ve had an awful lot of precipitation lately. In fact, in over the past five years, Minnesota has had an extra year’s worth of rain. The soil is saturated. That means that as the snow melts and more precipitation comes, the ground doesn’t have the capacity to absorb all that water. But it’s got to go somewhere, and that’s when floods happen.

In the spring of 2019, we had what meteorologists call an “ideal melt”: Days warm enough to melt the snow slowly, nights cool enough to stop the melting, and no additional precipitation. But we still had significant flooding last spring, so we can’t be sure the same won’t happen this year. Or, as National Weather Service Chief Meteorologist Dan Luna puts it, “I don’t believe an ideal snow melt is a very good preparedness plan.”

So if hope won’t keep you covered, what will? Flood insurance. Your regular home insurance policy doesn’t cover flooding – it may not even cover water or sewer backups. But you can definitely buy a flood insurance policy, and you don’t even have to live in a flood plain to do so. If your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (and 95 percent of Minnesota communities do), you qualify. And at an average cost of $500 per year, which is $42 per month, peace of mind is pretty affordable.

If your home floods and you don’t have flood insurance, you’ll end up paying out of pocket or having to take out a loan to repair the damage. Yes, sometimes there are Federal Emergency Management Agency grants, but those are relatively rare, and they tend to only provide about $5,000 per home. Compare that to 2017’s average flood claim of $90,000, and you can see that flood insurance is the way to go. The timing is important, too: It takes 30 days for you to be covered by your flood and sewer/water backup insurance policies, so don’t wait until the waters are rising to buy a policy. Do it now.

Floods are the most common and costly natural disasters in the U.S., so don’t let one take you by surprise. Check our spring flooding webpage often – it will be updated daily when spring flooding starts. And prepare yourself and your family for spring flooding by taking out a flood insurance policy, before it’s too late.