Winter weather in Hawaii is significantly different from the rest of the nation. Although somewhat milder in comparison, our winter storms have the potential to produce heavy rainfall which can result in hazardous flooding.
Last year, flooding caused major damage to residential properties on Kauai and East Oahu. Constant rainfall saturates the ground and homes in areas not prone to normal flooding can face major water damage.
What should you know and do to protect your home from potential flood damage?
Flood insurance coverage
It’s important to note that, your homeowners and renters insurance do not cover damage from flooding. A flood is defined as:
- A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area from overflow of inland or tidal waters; unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; and mudflows; or
- Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.
To protect your home, be sure to understand the risk of flooding and what your insurance options are.
If your home is near a stream or in a flood zone, you should consider flood insurance to cover potential property damage. Your lender will most likely make this a requirement as part of your loan contract. If your insurance company doesn’t carry flood insurance, check with your agent to find out where you can purchase flood insurance (National Flood Insurance Program policies can be purchased through insurance agents nationwide). It can protect what is probably your most valuable asset.Visit the National Flood Insurance Program for More Information
Compiling a detailed home inventory
Before a natural disaster strikes, you should always keep an inventory of your personal possessions, backed up with photos and/or video. This can be invaluable when processing an insurance claim in the aftermath of flood or storm damage.
Keep the documentation in a waterproof container stored as high as possible and away from rising water. You should also put a backup copy in a safe deposit box or other secure remote location. That way, you’ll have more than enough evidence to support an insurance claim for damage caused by water or severe weather.
Preventative maintenance to your home
A leaky roof can cause a lot more damage to your house than unsightly water stains on the ceiling. Roof leaks keep attic insulation wet, which can lead to rot and mold.
The unseen damage caused by roof leaks is often worse than what meets the eye, so it’s important to have it fixed as soon as possible. Having a reputable roofing contractor inspect your roof, check for undetected leaks, and make any needed repairs can prevent more costly damage down the road.
It’s also important to make sure to keep your gutters clean and to check regularly for leaks to make sure that they drain properly.
In addition, inspect your downspouts, remove any clogs, and use splash blocks or downspout extension pipes to make sure the water is directed well away from your house foundation to prevent erosion or ponding.
Move expensive items to a safer location
If you have a second floor or an attic, moving furniture, photographs, and artwork to a higher level will protect your possessions in all but the most severe floods. Elevate HVAC (heating, ventilating/ventilation, and air conditioning)equipment when it’s being installed, if possible, to a height of 12 inches above the highest known flood level for your area.
Invest in a battery-powered sump pump
Sump pumps let you pump water out of your home and can be a quick and excellent defense against flooding. Battery-powered sump pumps are a relatively inexpensive solution.
After the flooding
Fully document the damage for your insurer by taking photos or video prior to removing any water and making any repairs. Digital photos are best because they can be stored electronically and easily copied and transferred.
Remember to plan ahead before the winter storms arrive!