If you think it’s rained more than ever this year and you’ve seen more flooding than in recent years, there’s a reason. The National Weather Service officially declared 2018 the “wettest calendar year” on record earlier this month in Washington, D.C. Measurements taken at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport show 61.34 inches of rain, beating the previous record of 61.33 inches that fell in 1889. There’s no doubt about it – Stafford has had a super wet year.
With the advanced weather reporting tools available today, people knew to prepare for heavy rains. However, with an amount not seen for many years, new scenarios emerged via flooding in areas that usually stay dry. Residents who had never questioned the need for flood insurance were reconsidering. Stafford County’s Geographic Information Services (GIS) Office responded to this dilemma by devising an online map detailing floodplains in the County. Users can input their address to see if their location is in or near a floodplain.
“Most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. This map makes it easier for people to access information that will help them make better make decisions regarding their risks of flooding,” said Stafford GIS Director Dave Capaz. “The more tools we can give the public through our expertise and knowledge, the better.”
Even if you are not located in a floodplain, you still could benefit from flood insurance as many homeowners discovered this year when rain inundated yards and flooded in areas that had never flooded. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), just one inch of water in a home can cause $25,000 worth of damage. FEMA estimates that more than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk floodplains.
What can you do? You can purchase a special flood insurance policy from your private insurance provider, paying close attention to the terms and what is and is not covered. Stafford County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which means the County has voluntarily taken steps to adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances that provide flood-loss reduction building standards for new and existing development. This effort has resulted in reduced flood insurance rates for Stafford County residents. For more information on flood insurance, visit FEMA’s flood website at www.floodsmart.gov.
To find out if your property is in a flood zone*, visit www.staffordcountyva.gov/floodzones or follow the link on Stafford’s website to Stafford’s Potential Flood Zone Interactive Map Tool listed under Quick Links on the homepage. Residents are asked to familiarize themselves with the information as the flood maps are updated periodically and could change a property’s status. The last update was in 2015.
*If in a flood-prone area, to see if your property is in the official FEMA designated flood-zone, please visit county-site:
https://staffordcountyva.gov/1318/GIS--> Interactive Mapping Linkà(Same Search Method) - Layers/Table of Contents/Check – Flood & Watershed Data