Flood After Fire Fact Sheet

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1 FACT SHEET Flood After Fire Fact Sheet Risks and Protection Floods are the most common and costly natural hazard in the nation. Whether caused by heavy rain, thunderstorms, or the tropical storms, the results of flooding can be devastating. While some floods develop over time, flash floods particularly common after wildfires can occur within minutes after the onset of a rainstorm. Even areas that are not traditionally floodprone are at risk, due to changes to the landscape caused by fire. Residents need to protect their homes and assets with flood insurance now before a weather event occurs and it s too late. WILDFIRES INCREASE THE RISK You may be at an even greater risk of flooding due to recent wildfires that have burned across the region. Large-scale wildfires dramatically alter the terrain and ground conditions. Normally, vegetation absorbs rainfall, reducing runoff. However, wildfires leave the ground charred, barren, and unable to absorb water, creating conditions ripe for flash flooding and mudflow. Flood risk remains significantly higher until vegetation is restored up to 5 years after a wildfire. Flooding after fire is often more severe, as debris and ash left from the fire can form mudflows. As rainwater moves across charred and denuded ground, it can also pick up soil and sediment and carry it in a stream of floodwaters. These mudflows can cause significant damage. For example, in June 2011, the Las Conchas Wildfire charred more than 150,000 acres in New Mexico. One month later, heavy rains flooded the burn area, prompting a Presidential Disaster Declaration. BE FLOODSMART REDUCE YOUR RISK A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to bring high out-of-pocket costs, and you do not have to live in a high-risk flood area to suffer flood damage. Around twenty percent of flood insurance claims occur in moderate-to-low risk areas. Property owners should remember: The Time to Prepare is Now. Gather supplies in case of a storm, strengthen your home against damage, and review your insurance coverages. No flood insurance? Remember: it typically takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to go into effect, so get your policy now. Only Flood Insurance Covers Flood Damage. Most standard homeowner s policies do not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is affordable. An average flood policy costs around $600 a year, rates start at just $129 a year for homes in moderate- to low-risk areas. Plan Ahead. Plan evacuation routes. Keep important papers in a safe, waterproof place. Conduct a home inventory; itemize and take pictures of possessions. Everyone is at risk for spring flooding, yet many remain unprotected. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. The average flood claim in 2010 was approximately $28,000, and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own. Residents should consider their risk and the consequences of a flood event, and make the choice to protect themselves. Visit FloodSmart.gov (or call ) to learn more about individual flood risk, explore coverage options and to find an agent in your area. JANUARY 2012

2 Winter Rainy Season Is Flood Season Understanding and Reducing the Risk What You Should Know Don t be caught off guard. Get the facts. Know the risks. Take action to protect yourself, your family, your business, and your finances before a weather event occurs and it s too late. Know Your Risk Everyone is at risk for flooding, yet many in your community remain financially unprotected. A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to be costly, and you don t have to live in a high-risk flood area to suffer flood damage. About 20 percent of National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims occur outside mapped high-risk flood zones. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Between 2008 and 2012, the average flood claim was nearly $42,000. That s more than most people can afford to pay out-of-pocket for flood damages and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own. Complete the One-Step Flood Risk Profile to learn your flood risk. Be FloodSmart Reduce Your Risk Ther B e are a number of steps you can take to better prepare for flooding and o reduce your risk. d Purchase or renew your flood insurance policy now. Remember: y it typically takes 30 days for a new policy to go into effect. For more information regarding a flood policy, call your insurance agent. Visit t FloodSmart.gov, or call to find a local agent. e Prepare your emergency plan. Visit ready.gov for more information x about family preparedness. Plan and practice flood evacuation routes t from home, work, and school. Gather supplies in case of a storm and, if possible, strengthen your home against damage. Conduct a thorough home inventory. Documenting your w belongings will help you file your flood insurance claim. Begin your i home inventory today, visit knowyourstuff.org. l l Winter Rainy Season Flood Risks Heavy Rains and La Niña. Each winter and early spring, intense storms over the Pacific Ocean bring heavy rains to the West Coast. All western states are at heightened risk for flooding due to heavy rains. These stronger and more frequent storms can lead to flooding caused by oversaturated ground, overfilled storm drains, or rivers spilling over their banks or levees. Snow Melt. A midwinter or early spring thaw can produce large amounts of runoff in a short period of time. Because the ground is hard and frozen, water cannot be absorbed. The water then runs off the surface and flows into lakes, streams, and rivers, causing excess water to spill over their banks. Flash Flooding. While some floods develop over time, flash floods particularly common in this region can occur within minutes after the onset of a rainstorm. Even mountainous areas are at risk for flash flooding, as higher grounds tend to funnel water down into canyons. Flood after Wildfires. Wildfires destroy vegetation and harden the landscape, leaving behind soil that cannot effectively absorb moisture and precipitation. The likelihood of flash flooding and fast-paced runoff increases as a result of these conditions. As rainwater moves across charred and bare ground, it can also pick up soil and sediment and carry it in a stream of floodwaters. These mudflows can cause significant damage. Properties that were directly affected by fire as well as those located below or downstream of the burned areas will be at risk during winter rainy season. JANUARY 2014

3 Spring Flooding: Risks and Protection WHAT MID- ATLANTIC RESIDENTS SHOULD KNOW While spring brings the promise of warm weather and longer days, it also brings a variety of conditions that can include heavy rains, severe weather, and rapid snowmelt that can increase your flood risk. Don t be caught off guard. Get the facts. Know the risks. Take action to protect yourself, your family, your business, and your finances before a weather event occurs and it s too late. SPRING FLOOD RISKS Spring Thaw. Warmer temperatures and resulting snow melt can produce large amounts of runoff in a short period of time, as each cubic foot of compacted snow contains gallons of water. During the early spring, frozen land prevents melting snow or rainfall from seeping into the ground. The water then runs off the surface and flows into lakes, streams and rivers, causing excess water to spill over their banks. Add seasonal storms to the mix, and the result is often severe spring flooding. Spring Rains. Spring storms can bring several inches of precipitation in just hours or can stall out over an area for days. These heavy rains can lead to severe flooding by oversaturating the ground, overfilling storm drains, or causing rivers to spill over their banks or levees. Flash Flooding. A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas in less than six hours, which is caused by intense rainfall from a thunderstorm or several thunderstorms. Flash floods can also occur when there are drought-like conditions. MID-ATLANTIC FLOOD HISTORY Just last year, severe storms brought heavy flooding, mudslides, and landslides to West Virginia from March 12 to April 9. The storms resulted in Federal disaster declarations for five counties and more than $7.2 million in public assistance grants. In March of 2010, a series of slow moving spring storms brought heavy rains to the already snow packed areas of New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. The storms caused approximately $1.5 billion in damage and caused extensive flooding across several states. Between the end of March and the beginning of April 2005, snowmelt caused major flooding throughout the Delaware River Basin. Part of the Upper Susquehanna, Delaware and Chenango River Basins of central New York and northeast Pennsylvania experienced the worst river flooding in almost 70 years. In Pennsylvania alone, the flooding resulted in more than $3.4 million in disaster assistance and Federal disaster declarations in 10 counties. KNOW YOUR RISK Everyone is at risk for spring flooding, yet many in Mid- Atlantic States remain unprotected. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Between 2006 and 2010, the average flood claim was nearly $34,000. That s more than many survivors can 1 two early spring rainstorms combined with State District of Columbia STATE FLOOD FACTS Flood Insurance Policies 2, Policies in High-Risk Areas Delaware 25,133 17,885 Maryland 70,502 48,597 Pennsylvania 70,137 40,080 Virginia 113,512 59,209 West Virginia 21,421 15,589

4 Federal Emergency Management Agency afford to pay out of pocket for damages due to flooding, and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own. Consider your risk and the consequences of a flood event, and make the choice to protect yourself. BE FLOODSMART REDUCE YOUR RISK A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to bring high out-of-pocket costs, and you don t have to live in a high-risk flood area to suffer flood damage. Around twenty percent of flood insurance claims occur in moderate-to-low-risk zones. Property owners should remember: The time to prepare is now. Visit ready.gov/floods for more on family preparedness for flood and other emergencies. There are a number of steps individuals and families can take to better prepare themselves for flooding and reduce their risks. Remember to have a family evacuation plan, put an emergency kit together, and keep important papers and valuables in a safe, dry place. Gather supplies in case of a storm, strengthen your home against damage, and review your insurance coverages. Only flood insurance covers flood damage. Most standard homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Remember: it typically takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to go into effect, so get your policy now. Flood insurance is also affordable. An average flood policy costs around $600 a year, and rates start at just $129 a year for homes in moderate-to-low-risk areas. Visit floodsmart.gov (or call ) to learn more about individual flood risk, explore coverage options, and to find an agent in your area. Before A Flood Practice your family emergency plan. Plan and practice flood evacuation routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground. Conduct a thorough home inventory. Thorough documentation of your belongings will help you file your flood insurance claim. For more information, visit During A Flood Go to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, washes, etc. Avoid areas already flooded, especially when water flows fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Never drive through flooded roadways. Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters and just two feet of moving water can sweep an SUV off the road. After A Flood Check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. If you suspect damage to water, gas, electric, or sewer lines, contact authorities. Remove wet contents immediately. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and any other items holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. Clean and disinfect everything touched by floodwaters. Plan before you repair. Contact your local building inspections or planning office or your county clerk s office to get more information on local building requirements. File your flood insurance claim. Be sure to provide: the name of your insurance company, your policy number, and contact information. Take photos of any water in the house and damaged personal property. Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost items. 2

5 Spring Flooding: Risks and Protection WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW While spring brings the promise of warm weather and longer days, it also brings a variety of conditions that can include heavy rains, severe weather, and rapid snowmelt that can increase your flood risk. Don t be caught off guard. Get the facts. Know the risks. Take action to protect yourself, your family, your business, and your finances before a weather event occurs and it s too late. SPRING FLOOD RISKS Spring Thaw. Warmer temperatures and resulting snow melt can produce large amounts of runoff in a short period of time, as each cubic foot of compacted snow contains gallons of water. During the early spring, frozen land prevents melting snow or rainfall from seeping into the ground. The water then runs off the surface and flows into lakes, streams, and rivers, causing excess water to spill over their banks. Add seasonal storms to the mix, and the result is often severe spring flooding. Spring Rains. Spring storms can bring several inches of precipitation in just hours or can stall out over an area for days. These heavy rains can lead to severe flooding by oversaturating the ground, overfilling storm drains, or causing rivers to spill over their banks or levees. Flash Flooding. A flash flood is a rapid flooding of low-lying areas in less than six hours, which is caused by intense rainfall from a thunderstorm or several thunderstorms. Flash floods can also occur when there are drought-like conditions. Levees and Dams. The U.S. has thousands of miles of levees and dams that are designed to protect against a certain level of flooding. These structures can erode and weaken over time, and they can also be overtopped or even fail during larger flood events. KNOW YOUR RISK Everyone is at risk for spring flooding, yet many remain unprotected. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. Between 2006 and 2010, the average flood claim was nearly $34,000. That s more than many survivors can afford to pay out of pocket for damages due to flooding, and without flood insurance, many must cover the costs to repair or rebuild on their own. Consider your risk and the consequences of a flood event, and make the choice to protect yourself. BE FLOODSMART REDUCE YOUR RISK A flood does not have to be a catastrophic event to bring high out-of-pocket costs, and you don t have to live in a high-risk flood area to suffer flood damage. Around twenty percent of flood insurance claims occur in moderate-to-low-risk zones. Property owners should remember: The time to prepare is now. Visit ready.gov/floods for more on family preparedness for flood and other emergencies. There are a number of steps individuals and families can take to better prepare themselves for flooding and reduce their risks. Remember to have a family evacuation plan, put an emergency kit together, and keep important papers and valuables in a safe, dry place. Gather supplies in case of a storm, strengthen your home against damage, and review your insurance coverages. Only flood insurance covers flood damage. Most standard homeowners policies do not cover flood damage. Remember: it typically takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to go into effect, so get your policy now. Flood insurance is also affordable. An average flood policy costs around $600 a year, and rates start at just $129 a year for homes in moderate-to-low-risk areas. 1

6 Federal Emergency Management Agency Visit floodsmart.gov (or call ) to learn more about individual flood risk, explore coverage options, and to find an agent in your area. Before A Flood Practice your family emergency plan. Plan and practice flood evacuation routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground. Conduct a thorough home inventory. Thorough documentation of your belongings will help you file your flood insurance claim. For more information, visit During A Flood Go to higher ground. Get out of areas subject to flooding, including dips, low spots, washes, etc. Avoid areas already flooded, especially when water flows fast. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams. Just six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet. Never drive through flooded roadways. Roadbeds may be washed out under flood waters and just two feet of moving water can sweep an SUV off the road. After A Flood Check for damage. Check for structural damage before re-entering your home. If you suspect damage to water, gas, electric, or sewer lines, contact authorities. Remove wet contents immediately. Wet carpeting, furniture, bedding and any other items holding moisture can develop mold within 24 to 48 hours. Clean and disinfect everything touched by floodwaters. Plan before you repair. Contact your local building inspections or planning office or your county clerk s office to get more information on local building requirements. File your flood insurance claim. Be sure to provide: the name of your insurance company, your policy number, and contact information. Take photos of any water in the house and damaged personal property. Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost items. 2

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