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Melting snow carries risk of flooded basements

Areas of the northeast buried in snow this winter may be in for a second major headache: All this snow is going to melt and can potentially flood your basement or home.

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Areas of the northeast buried in snow this winter may be in for a second major headache: All this white stuff is going to melt and can potentially flood your basement or home.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, all that snow has to melt and a sudden thaw can bring serious flood damage. In a Boston Globe article this week, the highest concern is in low-lying areas that have historical flood risks.

“Certainly you want to get flood insurance, if you don’t have flood insurance” Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency spokesman Peter Judge told the Globe. “Your normal insurance is not going to cover you if you lose things in your home, or there’s damage to your home from flooding.”

Flooding events are not covered by homeowners insurance and requires a separate policy. There are two types of flood coverage: structure and contents. For those in high-risk areas, flood insurance may be mandatory if you have a mortgage. Flood insurance premiums for homes in high risk areas can be expensive, but it's worth getting a quote and evaluation from other insurance companies. For those who are in low-risk areas, flood insurance is typically much less expensive.

However, all flood insurance requires a 30-day wait period before actual coverage begins. Flood insurance is available through agents, including InsuraMatch, that work with the National Flood Insurance Program.

The true danger of flooding  can come from a fast melting period. During a “slow melt,” there are milder temperatures during the day and then drops below freezing at night, giving the water a chance to drain, according to the Globe article.

If you believe thaw flooding could occur, here are some steps you should consider:

  • Move as much snow on the ground away from your house, preferably to an area that will flow melted water away from your home. A 20-foot diameter, 10 foot high pile of snow contains about 2,600 gallons of water, according to North Dakota State University.
  • Make sure storm drains and basins near your home are clear of debris.
  • Clear debris out of your gutters and downspouts. A 1,000 square foot roof with a foot of snow contains about 2,500 gallons of water.
  • Move items that could be damaged or destroyed by flooding out of your basement in advance. Take a home inventory of your belongings  so there’s a record for your insurance company.
  • If you think your home may flood, consider a flood insurance policy. If your home floods within 30 days of you obtaining a policy, you won’t be covered.
  • Consider installing a pit and sump pump in your basement or areas that flood.

For more information or to find related articles, go to InsuraMatch's Flood Insurance Learning Center.

Categories: Flood, Home