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Week of 7.7.06

Action Steps: Flood Risks

Meteorologists are expecting a busy hurricane season for 2006 though not as severe as last year's record-breaking season.

The National Hurricane Center is predicting between four and six major hurricanes within the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico this year, with a total of 16 named storms compared to last year's 28.

Although fewer hurricanes are expected, people in coastal regions should prepare for the possibility of major storms, said Max Mayfield, the National Hurricane Center director.

"One hurricane hitting where you live is enough to make it a bad season," he said.

Clearly it is not only hurricanes but also heavy rainfall that can cause flooding, as was the case last month in the Northeast where some 16 people in four states died following severe weather.

Most of the property damage caused by the flooding in the Northeast was uninsured because property insurers exclude flooding from homeowners policies. Also, most property owners in the region did not purchase flood insurance from the federal government.

Under the National Flood Insurance Program -- a part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency -- the government helps homeowners obtain flood insurance that private insurers are unwilling to offer. Some 4.9 million homes nationwide are covered through the program.

Resources

A state-by-state guide for current warnings and forecasts is made available by the National Weather Service.

An interactive tool to gauge the flood risk in your home is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)