Study shows many aren't prepared for flooding - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Study shows many aren't prepared for flooding

March 14, 2006

Albany-- Would you be protected if another flood came rushing through South Georgia? A national study shows about half the homeowners who live in federally designated flood plains don't have flood insurance.

Many say they learned their lessons here in South Georgia but some things have changed a bit. After the 1994 and 1998 floods, many homeowners quickly got flood insurance. Now, several years have passed and some choose to just take their chances.

For the past 32 years, Ralph Jackson has loved his home by the Muckalee Creek. "It's so pretty, calm, peaceful," says Jackson. Not much has changed since he moved here with his family. The same tire swing still hangs from a tree. It's simple, but a reminder.

"Oh yeah, well so many things remind you," says Jackson. The swing is something that remained after the heavy flood waters of 1994. Right now, still water stands where a boat house used to.

"Man it made a lot of noise then all of a sudden whoomp, wound up over there," says Jackson. Not only does he remember the sounds, he still vividly remembers the sights. "The volume of water, the vastness of it, how fast it was flowing. It was like a raging river," says Jackson.

But given all the vivid memories, the damage, and the cleanup, Jackson says flood insurance just isn't for him. "I was hoping and thinking it would be a one time thing," says Jackson.

"It can happen again and it probably will. It's just a matter of time," says Lydia Livingston of Doherty, Duggan and Rouse Insurers.

Insurance agent Lydia Livingston says after the '94 and '98 floods, purchases of flood insurance policies increased tremendously but now those policies have dried out. "It's been ten years now and if you go back and look, some of those policies have cancelled," says Livingston.

Years of virtually no flooding make some homeowners feel a little more secure without the policies. "The longer they get away from the event, the less important they think that coverage is," says Livingston.

Jackson feels secure that his home is protected. "Of course that could be a false feeling if we get a flood," says Jackson. He's relying on a higher power to withstand any future waters.

"I thank my maker everyday for being able to survive this thing," says Jackson. The survival is worth it for just a glimpse at the creek's usual stillness.

The study by the RAND Corporation does show that those in the South and the Gulf Coast are more insured than other areas. Right now, FEMA is preparing flood maps of the United States to determine how some hurricane victims can rebuild.

Those maps should be ready in the next few weeks and they may require more homeowners to carry flood insurance.

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