Laguna Beach Businesses Mull Flood Insurance Ahead of Heavy Rains

With heavy rains expected in the coming weeks, Laguna Beach business owners are assessing whether they'll need flood insurance.

Heidi Miller says she's still financially digging out from a flood that all but ruined her clothing business five years ago.

It was the holiday season, and torrential rains, along with a car stuck in a nearby flood control channel, clogged up the entire drainage system. Dozens of stores downtown were flooded with mud and storm debris.

The water level rose about waist high in Miller's store. And like many other business owners, Miller learned she didn't have flood insurance.

Insurance experts say flood insurance is available in most places, but the rates vary and it's not automatic. It is not the same as a homeowners policy, which covers water damage for things like a toilet overflowing or a pipe bursting.

These separate premiums can run $400 to $600 per year for $250,000 worth of coverage - and it'll cost more fore those in a low-lying area.

"If a car were to get stuck in the flood control like it's happened before, it would concern me a lot," insurance broker John Campbell said.
Campbell bought flood insurance for his office building because it's in a flood plain. It cost nearly $3,000.

"I think most of us here in Laguna Beach, we're very nervous about El Nino, about the extent it could be," Miller said.

Miller said she's ready to install storm doors at the first sign of rain. She'll move her clothes and shoes out. But she does not plan on buying flood insurance.

"As far as flood insurance, I've looked at it and it's really prohibitive because of cost," Miller said.

A map from the state's Office of Emergency Services shows how much of Laguna Beach is at flood risk. The map can be found here.

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