It only takes one storm, one flash flood, or one inch of water to cause significant damage to a home or business. September marks National Preparedness Month – a reminder to all of us that we need to be prepared for unexpected disasters and emergencies that can strike at any time.  One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for the next storm is to purchase flood insurance.

One year ago, this month, Hurricane Florence released record-breaking rain on the Carolinas and much of the Southeastern United States. The powerful storm dropped up to 35 inches of rain on eastern North Carolina alone, causing flash floods throughout the region. Florence survivors Tony and Rita Morello of New Bern, North Carolina lost everything, but they were prepared with flood insurance.

After the storm, it took Tony and Rita Morello days to get back to their home from a family reunion in Georgia. When the couple finally arrived, they discovered that everything in their home had been destroyed. The Morellos were left with nothing but the items in their suitcases and the clothes on their backs. The realization was devastating, yet the Morellos knew they had a flood insurance policy that would allow them to recover, rebuild, and get back to their routine.

As we know all too well at FEMA, disasters happen every day. National Preparedness Month is an opportunity for all residents to take simple steps today to reduce the impact of storms tomorrow:

  • Create a family emergency plan and talk to your children about what to do during a disaster.
  • Get involved with community preparedness efforts and sign up for alerts and warnings in your area.
  • Learn your evacuation zone.
  • Build a preparedness kit or “go-bag” with water, food, medications, clothing, and critical financial, medical, and legal documents.
  • Speak with your insurance agent to renew your policy or visit to purchase a new flood insurance policy.

Flooding is the most common and costly natural disaster in the United States. Purchasing or renewing flood insurance is one of the most important steps you can take to financially prepare for a disaster. Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies do not cover flood damage, and just one inch of water in the average-sized home can cause more than $25,000 in damage. Insured residents, like the Morellos, can recover quicker and more fully from a flood than their uninsured neighbors.

Preparedness makes us more resilient as a nation, and it starts with you: individuals, families, and communities, taking the right steps to protect the life you’ve built.