Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Hailey residents in floodplain advised to buy flood insurance

Express Staff Writer

Slug: 06-02-08 Flood Insurance

"If I was living in the floodplain, I would be making sure my flood insurance is in place." - Diane Shay, Hailey city planner

In light of this winter's above-average snowpack, Hailey planning staff are advising city residents who live within the floodplain of the Big Wood River to consider buying flood insurance if they haven't done so already.

"It's a really good time for them to get the wheels in motion," Hailey planner Diane Shay said Friday. Shay said she's received a steady stream of phone calls in recent weeks from concerned city residents who are fearful of possible flooding this spring due to the heavy snowpack.

Shay said many of the callers have inquired about whether or not their homes are within the floodplain. "Once I told them they were in the floodplain, they were making the decision themselves to get the flood insurance," she said of some of the callers.

"If I was living in the floodplain, I would be making sure my flood insurance is in place," Shay said.

Homeowners who plan to buy flood insurance need to do so as quickly as possible, she said, because insurance companies typically require flood insurance to be in place at least 30 days before any flood event. Shay said homeowners must also obtain an elevation certificate from a surveyor before they can receive the flood insurance.

Residents should act quickly to schedule a surveyor to come by, she said. "Those guys (surveyors) are getting busy, too," Shay said.

In Hailey's February "Our Town" newsletter mailed out to city residents, homeowners in the Della View, Robin Hood and China Garden neighborhoods were warned that their neighborhoods are prone to local "sheet" flooding due to their close proximity to the river. The newsletter goes on to say that Hailey has historically initiated a flood watch when the river level reaches 4.5 feet, which is somewhat lower than the Federal Emergency Management Agency's official flood height of 6 feet.

"Our experience indicates that the sheet flooding begins at about 5.8 feet and some homes have interior water damage at about 6.5 feet," the letter says.

On Tuesday, the accumulated snowpack in the Big Wood River drainage stood at 143 percent of normal for the current period and 97 percent of the peak seasonal average.

Shay said Hailey residents with questions regarding flood insurance or whether their homes lie within the river's floodplain should call her at 788-9815, ext. 21.

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