Flooding can be a devastating natural disaster and, unfortunately, one that is only too common.
Flooding can be a devastating natural disaster and, unfortunately, one that is only too common. There's no good place to live to avoid floods. Any place that gets even rainfall is at risk for flood damage.

The impact of flooding goes beyond simple property damage. Floods can lead to significant economic and social consequences that can last for years. If you live in any area subject to possible flooding, it's important to understand the risks at hand.

Property Destruction
Property damage and loss of life are among the most serious concerns most homeowners and business owners face from flooding. Floods can cost $6 billion in damage and claim 140 lives annually. And that's just in the United States.  Worldwide, coastal flooding alone accrues costs of $3 trillion or more each year.

Smaller hurricanes and rain storms - like Hurricane Irene in Vermont in 2013 -  can do plenty of damage, including $153 million in state and local costs and $603 million in federal outlays. But, larger weather events, like Hurricane Katrina or Hurricane Harvey, can cause drive up expenses immensely, costing $108 billion and an estimated $65 billion respectively.

Without proper insurance coverage, these costs may be covered by government assistance. But, more than likely, property owners shoulder the financial burden, leaving thousands of families stranded and facing significant costs.

Economic Consequences
Flooding can harm the economy as well. Any hazardous amount of water ‒ as little as six inches ‒ can create problems for pedestrians and drivers alike. The economic impact comes when residents must stay at home rather than going about their usual consumer activities that pour money into the economy. Flooding can also close businesses, both temporarily and permanently, shut schools, and create millions of dollars in damages businesses must cover. This can deplete the tax base, creating far-reaching effects that may not rectify for months or even years.

Flooding can severely impact tourism as well. After Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans saw a drop of roughly 7 million tourists from 2004 to 2005, leading to nearly $2 billion in lost revenue in that one year period alone. With the glacial pace of storm recovery, several years of reduced spending caused by cleanup can cripple a city’s or region’s economy.

Health Issues
Flooding can also cause numerous health issues. Water from rain and rising rivers isn't pure and clean. Instead, it's often contaminated with sewage and chemicals, causing boils, rashes and infection. This is particularly problematic in developing countries, where floodwater can carry dangerous diseases, like cholera, typhoid, and yellow fever.

Health officials warn that food that comes into contact with floodwater is not safe to consume. Furthermore, parents are urged to clean children's toys and possessions thoroughly before use.

Making Proper Preparations
With proper preparations, you can mitigate the trouble that flooding can cause to property. Flood insurance covers the gaps in traditional homeowners' policies, providing protection against water damage for an average of $700 a year. With claims averaging $38,000, a small investment is worth the peace of mind flood protection brings.

Flooding can create widespread issues, from damage to disease. Learn more about insurance for floodingand the steps you can take to protect your home with Selective’s Hurricane Guide or flood articles.