BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Many homeowners in southeast Louisiana were caught off guard by historic flooding, overwhelmed by water they've never dealt with before. Many are also without flood insurance.
According to federal data, around 20 percent of flood insurance claims are filed in areas not considered at high risk for flooding. Like so many learned last week, flooding can happen anywhere.
"You have the Mississippi River, potentially a levee could break that would cause flooding in areas. A lot of people don't think about that," said insurance agent Brady Flavin.
Flavin recommended flooding insurance for all his customers. He said despite popular belief, homeowners insurance alone will not cover flood damage.
"You just want to make sure you have it, whether you're in a flood zone or outside a flood zone, because you just never know what's going to happen," said Flavin.
Flavin added that it takes 30 days for a policy to kick in. That means means purchasing insurance now, can only help for future flooding.
However, there is still help out there for flood victims without insurance. The federal government has declared 23 parishes' disaster areas, including Livingston and Tangipahoa, which qualifies residents for aid.
Officials say the emergency declaration can be amended to include more parishes later on, but that it was critical those parishes report damages to local government so officials can complete damage assessments, which would be forwarded to the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness.
Submitting damage reports:
Residents in parishes set to receive federal disaster assistance can register with FEMA by applying online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362. Those who have a speech disability or hearing loss should call 1-800-462-7585 directly. Those who use 711 or Video Relay Service can call 1-800-621-3362.