Although the old saying goes, “April showers bring May flowers,” what it forgets to mention is all of the flooding that these April showers also bring. The spring months create an environment perfect for creating water rises, backed-up sewers and significant floods that can wreak havoc on any business, no matter the industry.
Recent stories across the nation have underscored the dangers and subsequent losses caused by devastating impacts from storms and flooding. As flood threats continue to grow and garner media headlines, business owners must do what they can to mitigate exposure to risks and lessen the impact of disasters.
Unfortunately, no matter how many precautions business owners take to protect their establishments against floods, sometimes there are larger forces at work that need institutional changes.
The recent floods in Houston, Texas, are indicative of just how brutal floods can be when there isn’t sufficient urban infrastructure to handle the large amounts of rainwater. Following a torrential downpour that hit the city in April, thousands of people were evacuated from their homes while businesses suffered billions of dollars worth of property damage and other losses. As reported by RT, over the course of one day, an estimated 17.6 inches of rain fell causing roughly $5 billion in damages. CNBC noted that this equaled an estimated 240 billion gallons of water.
According to the Houston Chronicle, Houstonians have been battling floods since the city’s infancy more than 170 years ago. While many reservoirs and sewers were built during the 1940s to mitigate the problems associated with the constant flooding, the city’s efforts to control flooding has been unable to keep up with the recent population explosion and urban sprawl that followed. Between 1999 and 2009, Houston suffered a little more than $3 billion in insured losses, CNBC noted. The $5 billion price tag for the flooding over a short period of time in April highlights how bad the flooding and lack of infrastructure has become.
According to experts, one of the main factors contributing to the massive floods in Houston comes from the lack of a sewer or drainage system robust enough to handle a surge in storm water. Further, the virtually nonstop placement of pavement across the area is another one of the main culprits.
Samuel Brody, professor of marine science, landscape architecture and urban planning at Texas A&M University, noted every square meter of pavement placed over the natural ground equates to extra flood damage equal to roughly $4,000, according to CNBC. The sprawling population growth over the past couple of decades has forced the Houston region to added hundreds of square miles of pavement, increasing its total surface coverage by 25 percent between 1996 and 2011.
Further compounding the issue is the lack of urban planning and coordinated civic plans to combat the increasing flood risks in the area.
“To throw up your hands and say we’re going to be vulnerable and have hundreds of millions of dollars of impact every year in Houston just because it rains a lot is not the attitude we need to take,” said Brody, according to the Houston Chronicle . “We are not thinking about the big picture.”
“Businesses need to work with insurance brokers to ensure they have adequate flood insurance.”
Unfortunately, Houston isn’t the only city suffering from infrastructure issues exacerbating flooding problems. Municipalities all across the country face these same critical obstacles as they deal with burgeoning population growth and sprawling urban expansions, often with limited resources to finance the accompanying needs and demands.
The Weather Channel reported on recent heavy rainfall in northern Tennessee that caused severe flooding and prompted water rescues. A local city park was basically destroyed while a nearby shopping center flooded.
As urban, suburban and exurbs continue to rapidly grow and convert basins, plains and other natural places into residential, commercial and industrial zones, business owners will need to work ever more closely with insurance brokers and agents to ensure their enterprises are protected when water levels rise to dangerous levels.
Flood insurance as a levee
While many companies carry a minimal amount of commercial insurance, these policies often do not include robust flood protections. Most standard commercial insurance polices typically cover only property and liability issues, which means these companies will need to obtain a policy rider with a flood rating based on location and weather possibilities.
Brokers who partner with McGowan Risk Specialists to get flood insurance for their commercial clients know they’re signing up with a trusted and experienced policy provider. When the floodwaters continue to rise, don’t let the amount your clients are paying out-of-pocket do the same. With eligible classes that cover a wide range of commercial enterprises, from office space to retail and from schools to hospitals, McGowan Risk Specialists offer flood insurance for most companies.