Those familiar with the emergency lifecycle know that a wildfire response does not end with 100 percent containment. The only thing that changes is the mission.
The Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) yesterday convened tribal, federal and state agencies to discuss potential post-fire flooding threats in communities impacted by the Wallow, Horseshoe Two and Monument fires.
Attendees discussed a number of issues, including the average monsoon rainfall in those area, the status of rain gauges and the utility of existing flood warning systems. Chief among them was the need for outreach to at-risk communities about the importance of being prepared and adequately insured.
“The threat to lives and property doesn’t end with the lifting of evacuation orders or full containment of these fires,” said ADEM Director Lou Trammell. “We are simply entering a new phase in these emergencies where all parties need to be fully engaged in developing strategic flood plans. This is threat that needs to be taken seriously.”
Agencies in attendance included the San Carlos Apache Tribe; the Arizona departments of Environmental Quality, Game and Fish, and Water Resources; the State Forestry Division; the Arizona National Guard; the National Weather Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Homeland Security; FEMA; the federal bureaus of Indian Affairs and Reclamation; and the U.S. Forest Service.
Data models created cooperatively by experts in such fields as hydrology, geology, forestry and civil engineering will be shared with at-risk communities. In turn, these communities will lead the planning for flood mitigation and response.
Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover flood damage, but most agents who sell homeowner’s insurance also sell federal flood insurance policies. Detailed information about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is available online at www.FloodSmart.gov or with a call to the NFIP referral center at (888) 379-9531. It takes 30 days for an NFIP policy to go into effect.
Although the flood risk of an area might increase, insurance premiums do not. Rates are based on flood maps that do not immediately change after a fire event. Home and property owners can learn their level of flood risk at www.FloodSmart.gov.
Visit the Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) website at www.AzEIN.gov for real-time emergency updates, preparedness and hazard information, and multimedia resources.