The Hidden Dangers of Flooding – Why You Need Flood Insurance

If you live in a flood zone, you should consider purchasing flood insurance (separate from homeowners’ or renters’ policies). If your property is in a high-risk area, your mortgage lender may require you to carry a policy.

FEMA’s maps change over time, even if your home is in a low-risk flood zone. It’s important to keep up with them.

Damage to Property

A flood can damage your possessions and make your home unsafe. It can also contaminate drinking water with sewage, chemicals and animal feces. It can wash away roads and bridges, leaving people stranded without access to food, shelter or other necessities. The uplifted debris from flooded areas can cause injuries if you step on or drive through it. Live power lines that come down in flood waters are dangerous and deadly. Floodwaters can carry toxic chemicals such as oil, gasoline and solvents from leaking vehicles and damaged gas stations. Flooding damages buildings’ structure and contents, including furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances and other household goods. It can also contaminate wells, septic systems and plumbing. This damage isn’t immediately obvious but can lead to significant, expensive repairs and replacements. A separate Georgia flood insurance policy protects your belongings against flooding and is available to homeowners and renters as an add-on to their standard property coverage.

Damage to Personal Property

Flood water often brings in debris and trash from the surrounding area. In addition, flood waters may also contain human feces and other waste from sewer systems, making them grossly unsanitary. Infections and other ailments can be transmitted through open cuts and wounds from uplifted debris and manhole covers or contaminated water. Floods can also contaminate drinking water, as the extreme precipitation and flooding overwhelm freshwater infrastructure, including wells. This can make it difficult or impossible to purify drinking water, leaving you vulnerable to various illnesses from waterborne bacteria and chemicals.

Additionally, heed evacuation orders if you live in an area prone to flooding. If your house is in a flood zone, you must have flood insurance by law. If you’re considering buying a home in a flood zone, ask the seller to provide proof of their flood insurance coverage. You can also submit a request to FEMA called a Letter of Map Amendment, or LOMA, to have your home removed from the flood zone. 


Drowning is the number one cause of death in flood disasters, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the ability to warn people or evacuate them is limited. People also drown while attempting to drive through floodwaters: Just 18 inches of water can lift a car, and once it’s buoyant, most vehicles tend to roll over and trap people inside. Flood waters are rich with biohazards, including animal feces from sewer systems, agricultural pesticides and coal ash from local power plants. These pollutants can contaminate drinking and washing water, increasing risks of illness such as diarrhoeal disease. People can also become infected by touching floodwaters, especially if they have open wounds or are elderly, young children or sick. Floods often lead to waste accumulation in drains and sewage systems, and people can be exposed to bacteria like legionella, which causes pneumonia. Eating food that has come into contact with flood water is also dangerous, as it may contain bacteria and parasites such as cockroaches.


Floods can carry germs and microbes that cause infections. Infections can range from skin rashes to diarrhea and even more serious conditions like necrotizing fasciitis (flesh-eating disease). Sewage, chemicals, oil, animal feces and other pollutants can pollute flood water. This contaminates freshwater systems used for drinking and washing, including wells and groundwater springs. Infections can also occur from breathing in infectious aerosols and dust or aspirating contaminated water. Those at the highest risk of infection include infants, older adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic kidney or lung disease, cancer and treatments that lower immunity. Floods can also hurt wildlife. They can displace animals, kill wildlife (like the hundreds of endangered one-horned rhinos that died after floods swamped Kaziranga National Park in India in 2012) and damage habitats. Floodwaters can also bring disease-carrying mosquitoes to new areas, increasing the risk of diseases like Zika and West Nile.


Flooding destroys homes and businesses and causes various health and safety issues. People can be killed or injured trying to navigate flooded roads, many of which are underwater, and the water can contaminate drinking water systems. In addition, extreme precipitation and flooding often overwhelm waste management systems, which leads to dangerous sewage backups. People can also be harmed by the bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants in the flood waters that can enter buildings and linger long after the water has receded. The water may be contaminated with sewage, chemicals, animal feces, and other garbage. This can cause diseases such as tetanus and leptospirosis and harm those with open wounds or compromised immune systems. In addition, floods can destroy power and communication infrastructure, disrupting transportation and supply chains and making it harder for people to get food, water, and medicine. This creates various medical and psychological challenges that can linger for months and even years after the floods have passed.