Officials say flood insurance is wise after wildfires, even in areas that have rarely seen past flooding

This 2017 file photo shows Clear Water Creek runoff from flash flooding during rainstorm. The creek runs into Panguitch Lake, Brian Head, Utah, July 24, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Cedar City Councilman Paul Cozzens, St. George News / Cedar City News

SALT LAKE CITY — Wildfire season is once again raging, and areas throughout the West are feeling the impact. Once the fires are out, people and communities are at risk for another threat: flooding.

Wildfires leave the ground charred and unable to absorb water. This creates flash flooding potential for years to come, according to a press release from the Utah Division of Emergency Management, even in areas that rarely experienced flooding in the past. Sometimes these flash floods can pick up ash and large debris, turning into mudflows that are highly destructive.

Floods are the most common and expensive natural disaster in the U.S.  Just an inch of water in an average-sized home can cause $25,000 in damage. However, unlike many causes of damage, flooding and mudflows are generally not covered by a homeowners’ policy. An uninsured flood loss can eat into your life’s savings.

A National Flood Insurance Program policy protects against such losses and can ensure that a flood doesn’t bring financial ruin. Because there’s a 30-day waiting period for an NFIP policy to go into effect, it’s important to purchase a policy now to protect your property against the continuing threat of flooding.

Flood insurance is easy to get, the only requirement is that you live in a community that participates in NFIP. These include cities, counties and other jurisdictions that manage development. You don’t need to live in a floodplain to purchase a policy. If you live outside a floodplain, insurance will likely cost less than for those living in a higher risk area.

In this 2018 file photo, crews work to clear mud and debris from state Route 143 in Parowan Canyon near a burn scar, July 9, 2018 | Photo courtesy of Parowan Police Chief Ken Carpenter, St. George News / Cedar City News

You can usually purchase flood insurance from your current agent. If that isn’t possible, NFIP representatives can help you find one.

As with any insurance, be sure to talk with your agent about the specifics of your policy. Find out more about your risk and flood insurance at FloodSmart.gov. To purchase flood insurance or find an agent, call 800-427-4661.

Contact a mitigation specialist for more information about making your home and family safer before, during and after a wildfire or other natural disaster at FEMA-r8-HMhelp@fema.dhs.gov or bereadyutah@utah.gov for more information about making your home and family safer before, during and after an earthquake.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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