FEMA: Californians Buy Record Number of Flood Policies

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports a large increase in the number of flood insurance policies purchased in California in response to a rainy El Nino winter.

FEMA officials say that insurers have written more than 55,000 policies since August, translating into a 25 percent increase.

FEMA spokeswoman Mary Simms chalks up the uptick to greater awareness of El Nino, a weather pattern that's bringing much needed rain to drought-parched California. She says the agency has not seen upticks in other states, even in Western states also affected by El Nino.

Agency officials say they haven't seen this kind of an increase since the National Flood Insurance Program was created by Congress in 1968 to offer flood insurance to homeowners, tenants and business owners through private insurers.

A strong high pressure system is currently blocking Southern California from rainy conditions. Still, several San Diego residents told NBC 7 they would opt for flood insurance, considering the strong January storm.

"Yes, I will be looking into it," Clairemont resident Kory Hickman said. "Probably sometime this coming week because we just talked about it."

Another San Diegan, Nancy Croisant of Pacific Beach, said it's not too costly if you consider the expenses of flood damage.

"I have had it on two different properties. I had one in Mission Beach and it was super expensive," she said. "And I have some in Imperial Beach and it's not that expensive. So I think it's probably a good thing with El Nino."

While San Diego has seen a dry period recently, the Climate Prediction Center reports that we're still under a strong El Nino. During previous El Nino years, storms lasted to April.

In previous years, San Diego saw similar dry spells.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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