FEMA states that winter flooding is particularly dangerous in the states of Arizona, California and Nevada because of the recent wildfires and the rainy season that follows. Although flooding can happen during any time of the year, homeowners should know their risk in relation to severe weather, including flooding, that can occur during cold weather months.
To help homeowners understand their risks, FEMA provides the following Floodsmart tools:
- A Wildfire Infographics tool that show how wildfires can impact flooding in an area
- A Cost of Flooding tool that shows that costs of different levels of flooding
- Video testimonials of home and business owners who speak about protecting their assets with flood insurance
FEMA states that most homeowners in the abovementioned western states do not have insurance policies that provide flood insurance coverage. In 2009, the annual claim for flood-damaged property averaged $27,000. Nancy Ward, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region IX Administrator states:
“Virtually every home and business owner faces some risk of flooding, which can stem from events as commonplace as broken sewer lines, slow moving rainstorms, or even a new real estate development that alters drainage patterns around a property. Everyone should have a flood preparedness checklist, and for many people, having flood insurance can be as important as having an emergency supply kit and knowing where to go if they need to evacuate.”
FEMA warns that flood insurance policies are not effective until 30 days after their purchase, so it is better to purchase one before it is too late.
2010 to 2011 Winter Weather Dangers
Heavy rainfall in Arizona is often the aftermath of wildfires, and mountainous areas tend to funnel water into the canyons. Rainfall in California is particularly heavy in the winter and early spring, and accounts for much of the state’s annual rainfall. Heavy rain in this state causes rivers to crest, flooding, storm drains to back-up and the ground to become over-saturated. Nevada is also at risk for floods as the state deals with storms that form over the Pacific Ocean.
During the summer and fall months, wildfires in these western states often change the conditions of the ground by eliminating the amount of vegetation that would normally absorb and slow the running of excess rainwater. Consequently, there is an increased chance of flooding, mudflows and property damage when it rains after a wildfire. More than 142,000 Arizona homes were destroyed by wildfires in 2010, and the following rains flooded the Flagstaff area. A similar situation happened in California when the “Station” fire in Los Angeles County burned over 160,000 acres. Over 28,000 acres of land in Nevada were also damaged in 2010.