Where do I get information on Flooding and Flood Insurance in Wellfleet?

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The Town of Wellfleet wants to ensure all our citizens and visitors are fully aware of the hazards related to flooding.  We want everyone to be aware of the risks of all types of floods and know what action to take in the event of a flood. This portion of our website is designed to bring our community members important flood information pertinent to the Town of Wellfleet.   Please take some time to read through these topics, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us any of the following ways:

Brian Carlson, Assistant Town Administrator
Community Rating System Coordinator
Phone:  508-349-0349
Email:  brian.carlson@wellfleet-ma.gov

Know Your Risk

If you don’t know or understand how your property could be impacted by flooding, you have little reason to be concerned.  The information on this page will help you identify and understand your risk.

Insure Your Property

Do you know how to get flood insurance and what it truly covers you against?  While most of us understand the importance of flood insurance if we are in a flood hazard area, did you know that even if you aren’t in a hazard area, you still need insurance to be covered?  The information on this page will help you understand the importance of flood insurance and provide informative links to find an agent.

Everyone is at risk of flooding.  Homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover for damage caused by natural flooding.  However, because Wellfleet participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy.  This insurance is backed by the Federal Government and is available to everyone, even properties that have flooded.

If you don’t know what kind of flood hazard zone your property is located, please contact the Building Department and they can assist you.  There number is 508-349-0309.  If your property is in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) and you have a mortgage, you were required by your bank to purchase flood insurance.  You may want to be sure you also have contents coverage as this is a separate NFIP policy and is also available to all residents in Wellfleet.

If your property is not located in the SFHA, you may qualify for a lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy.  These policies are very affordable and provide the comfort of knowing your home and contents are safe from flood damage.

Let’s review some of the myths about Flood Insurance Coverage:

1.FEMA only pays me if my area is declared a state of emergency anyway, so I don’t need insurance. This is false. The National Flood Insurance Program pays out for all flooding damage to its policy holders. Let’s look at FEMA’s definition of a flood:

•A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of 2 or more acres of normally dry land area or of 2 or more properties (at least 1 of which is the policyholder's property) from:

--Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or

--Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or

--Mudflow; or

--Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.

The first bullet is the flooding condition that applies to Wellfleet residents.  A flood has to have impacted your (the policyholder’s) property and one other property.  That doesn’t mean the other property has to make a claim, it just means that at least one other property in the Town had to experience at least a partial inundation of water from an overflow or runoff of any low-level ponding area in the Town.

2.If there is a really bad flood in Wellfleet, the Town will be declared a state of emergency, and I’ll get help anyway, because FEMA will pay for my damage. This is FALSE. When FEMA reaches out during an emergency to a community, those community members are offered low interest loans from FEMA to repair damage. It is ONLY the insurance policy holders who receive money without having to have it loaned to them. With no NFIP insurance, you have no coverage – no matter where you live.

3.My sump pump quit working last spring and my basement flooded and my insurance company covered our damage, so I already have flood insurance. This is misleading. If your sump pump fails to function and creates basement flooding, this is flooding caused by a mechanical failure and is covered under your homeowner’s insurance. Flooding that seeps in from groundwater from any runoff surface is considered a flood. Damage in this case would not be covered by your homeowner’s policy. A NFIP policy would cover this if at least one other resident had experienced the same type flooding.

So how do I know how much flood insurance would cost me?  Flood insurance rates are determined by the base flood elevation of your home or business and compared to the base flood elevation of your property.  To determine this number, you must have a flood elevation certificate.  Flood Elevation Certificates must be prepared by a licensed surveyor, engineer or architect.  The cost for a flood elevation certificate can run anywhere from $175 to $500.  Use your Internet’s search engine to find someone in your area or consult the local yellow pages.

Once you obtain an elevation certificate, you can call your insurance agent to obtain a rate quote for flood insurance.

Protect People

It’s important to know what to do in the event of a flood.  Do you know how to receive flood warnings?  Do you know where to go if you need to evacuate your home?  What if a street is closed or just looks flooded – what do you do?  Have you heard the phrase, Turn Around, Don’t Drown?  The information on this page will help answer some of these important questions.

There are some actions you can take now to keep you and your family safe in a flooding event.

1.Become familiar with the warning systems available in Wellfleet and take action to be ready in the case of a flood:

2.Goto the Barnstable County Regional Emergency Preparedness Committee website for information. http://www.bcrepc.org/

3.Read these links that provide more preparedness information:

•Ready.Gov @ http://www.ready.gov/floods

•CDC @ http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/

•FloodSmart.Gov @ https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/preparation_recovery/before_a_flood.jsp

•Red Cross @ http://www.redcross.org/prepare/disaster/flood

•Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Association (DHS/FEMA)

•​CCCE’s flooding page: http://www.capecodextension.org/marine-programs/coastal-processes-2/flooding/

4.    Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio and a flashlight.

5.    Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.

6.    Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.

7.    Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.

8.  Have a plan to protect your pets.

9.  Avoid potentially hazardous areas

Some other things you can do to stay safe during a flood:

•If water rises in your home before you evacuate, go to the top floor, attic, or roof.

•Listen to a battery-operated radio for the latest storm information.

•Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if advised to do so.

•If you've come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.

For more information on emergency preparation, talk to your insurance agent or visit Ready.gov. You can always contact the Town of Wellfleet Police Department and speak to the duty officer with your questions related to FLOOD or EMERGENCY preparedness by calling (508-349-3702).

Protect Your Property

If you’ve experienced a flood and had materials damaged, you need to replace and store them in a way that minimizes flood damage risk in the future.  For example, if your furnace or hot water heater has sustained damage, you will want to replace it with one elevated above the flood level.  It’s also important to keep debris and trash out of the Tonawanda Creek.  The City has a program to regularly inspect the Tonawanda Creek, but it is everyone’s responsibility to make sure the Creek is kept clear and clean.  This page will provide information on how to protect your property.

1.  Safeguard your possessions.

Create a personal flood file containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:

•A copy of your insurance policies with your agents contact information.

•A household inventory: For insurance purposes, be sure to keep a written and visual record of all major household items and valuables, even those stored in basements, attics or garages. You can either photograph or videotape your belongings.   Create files that include serial numbers and store receipts for major appliances and electronics. Have jewelry and artwork appraised. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims. For more information visit www.knowyourstuff.org.

•Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.

2. Prepare your house

•First make sure your sump pump is working and then install a battery-operated backup, in case of a power failure. Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.

•Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.  This is especially important in the Spring as many gutters have become clogged with leaves, sticks and other debris.

•Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) should all be at least 12 inches above your home's projected flood elevation. If you don’t know what that elevation should be, a flood elevation certificate will tell you.  Refer to presentation number 2 in this series for information about how to obtain a certificate.

• Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.

•Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.

Build Responsibly

Did you know there are special regulations for any type of construction in a special flood hazard area?  Everyone needs to obtain a permit to build, and you can learn about these regulations and more information to keep you safe by visiting the information on this page.  Call the Building Department for more information at 508-349-0309.

Protect Natural Floodplain Functions

Storm drains are those grates in the streets next to the curbs where water naturally flows.  Unfortunately, leaves and debris can also naturally flow in to the storm drains.  Keeping those drains free from trash and debris is important to flood prevention.