Because spring marks the unofficial beginning of the state's flood season and to make citizens aware of flooding problems and solutions, Governor Mary Fallin has designated May 2011 as "Flood Awareness Month" in Oklahoma.
“We remind citizens that heavy rains and severe storms typically occur in the early spring months, making this one of the most dangerous times of the year," says J.D. Strong, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. “This proclamation will be of tremendous help to the Water Board in educating the public on flood safety procedures and floodplain management techniques,” Strong adds.
Earlier, Governor Fallin proclaimed March as “Flood Insurance Month,” part of a state campaign to spread the word about the availability of affordable flood insurance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Oklahoma currently boasts almost 400 NFIP member communities, which consist of municipalities, counties, and tribes.
“Severe flooding episodes occur in Oklahoma virtually every year, most frequently in the spring and fall,” says Gavin Brady, State Floodplain Manager. “Implementation of sound floodplain management and building strategies, particularly through the NFIP, is the most effective way for communities to avert potential flood damages.” However, he encourages communities to go “above and beyond” minimum NFIP standards. Brady points out that 89% of homes in Oklahoma’s designated floodplains have no flood insurance.
On an individual basis, Brady reminds Oklahomans of the dangers of driving into floodwaters. “Almost one-half of all flood-related fatalities occur in vehicles, primarily when people drive into flooded highway dips or low drainage areas at night. As little as six inches of water can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles. Two feet of water will sweep most cars off the road,” he says.
Brady adds that Oklahoma consumers should be aware that their basic homeowner’s insurance policy does not provide coverage to protect against damages created by flooding. Citizens are encouraged to consult the latest floodplain maps or visit with their local insurance agent to assess their need for flood insurance.
For more information on Flood Awareness Month and the National Flood Insurance Program, call Gavin Brady at 918/581-2924.