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Wildfires bring rush to insure for floods

Wildfires bring rush to insure for floods

Experts advise those in burned areas to lock up coverage before rains begin

  • Updated

Insurance experts are warning people in areas burned by wildfires to prepare for the second disaster - flows of black water, full of ash and debris, that will flood these areas when the summer rains come.

There is an urgency for buying flood insurance.

There is a 30-day waiting period before a new flood insurance policy takes effect, and the summer rains typically begin in the first week of July.

The process can take even longer for homeowners in high-risk flood areas, said Erin Klug, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Insurance.

In Portal, Arizona, where the Horseshoe 2 Fire had burned more than 116,000 acres in the Chiricahua Mountains, people are bracing for the floods that will surely follow the fire.

Reed Peters, owner of Cave Creek Ranch, said he went up the canyon with a Forest Service hydrologist who wanted to avoid taking out nesting sites as they removed damaged trees along Cave Creek to avoid logjams.

When he returned, he called his insurance agent.

The floods are the next threat for folks like Peters, whose cabins sit astride Cave Creek.

"Everybody's buying flood insurance," he said.

He's hoping for rain, but hoping it starts gently, he said.

know your policy

Many people don't know their regular home insurance policy won't cover flood damage, said Mike Evans, an emergency services coordinator at Cochise County Emergency Management.

"A couple hundred bucks a year could really save them a lot of grief and thousands and thousands of dollars if their home does get flooded," he said.

In heavily burned areas, Evans said people can expect heavy rain runoff, because the water can't soak into the ground. People can also expect ash and debris flow, he said, because there's no vegetation to hold soil and rocks in place.

People should call their insurance agent and ask if they're covered or ask about buying coverage through a policy underwritten by the National Flood Insurance Program, said Mary Pekas, a spokeswoman for AAA Arizona.

Basic flood insurance covers a structure, but coverage for the contents of the home would be on a separate policy, Klug said.

People should also check their car insurance policies, Pekas said, because comprehensive insurance would cover water damage, but liability coverage would not.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at or 807-8012.

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