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Byline: Jeff Gelles
Jul. 3--As flood waters recede around the region, two things are sadly easy to predict: One is that residents and businesspeople, shocked by the damage, will call their insurance companies. The other is that many will learn -- too late to do anything about it -- that their losses weren't covered. It's inevitable: Nature will be cruel. If global warming has the effects scientists fear, it's likely to become crueler, until we wise up and reverse the factors within our control.
But one thing isn't inevitable: Not every natural disaster need lead to financial ruin for victims. Yes, there's nothing you can do about the ubiquitous "acts of God" exclusions in nearly every insurance policy, or about risks such as earthquakes that can cause massive, widespread damage. But you can do something about flooding before it's too late: Buy flood insurance. Floods are more confined and predictable than other disasters, but their scale is sometimes so huge -- remember Hurricane Katrina? -- that private …