Where is ‘normal’? Flood insurance

August 6, 2014

A newly renovated section of the Kinnickinnic River is seen here in Milwaukee on July 21, 2014. The new sections remove all the concrete and return it back to a natural river environment that not only supports wildlife and aquatics again but also does a better job of handling large amount of water during floods. The city of Milwaukee has been in the process of expanding flood plains in the city which means relocating families before tearing down the homes and turning it into a green area that can better deal with water when flooding occurs. (Darren Hauck/For the Washington Post)

Welcome to a recurring feature on Storyline where we identify the counties that are “normal” for an issue in the American landscape, compared to the national average.

Floods can happen almost everywhere, but some areas of the country prepare for them more than others.

Folks with in-force policies through the National Flood Insurance Program as of the end of May are largely concentrated along shorelines, with many more policies along major rivers like the Mississippi River.

According to an analysis of National Flood Insurance Program data and census data, the U.S. rate for people with flood insurance under the program is a little higher than four percent of households, or 4007 per 100,000 households.

The rate is as high as almost five in six households in Aransas County, Texas, along the Gulf of Mexico, while 58 percent of counties have a rate under one percent.

With such disparities between counties, not many fall within even 100 policies of the U.S. average. In fact, only six are within 50 households of the rate per 100,000:

– Blaine County, Idaho;

– Dunklin County, Mo.;

– Johnson County, Ky.;

– Lea County, N.M.;

– Santa Cruz County, Ariz.;

– and Washington County, Ohio

Steven Rich is the database editor for investigations at The Washington Post. While at The Post, he’s worked on investigations involving tax liens, civil forfeiture, cartels and government oversight. He was also a member of the reporting team awarded the Pulitzer for NSA revelations. PGP Fingerprint: 69FA 5730 ADDD 5488 24FE 6EB2 B727 D930
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Danielle Paquette · August 6, 2014