How to protect your home from ‘double disaster’ during Arizona’s wildfire & monsoon seasons

Summer is ripe for monsoon storms and wildfires. Flood insurance can help protect you from financial ruin. On Your Side's Susan Campbell explains.
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 2:21 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Between monsoon storms, wildfires, and burn scars, some Arizonans face a bigger flooding risk than they realize. According to FEMA, there are about 26,000 flood insurance policies here in the state. The agency expects more people to purchase the specialized coverage because of some recent changes to how flood insurance pricing is calculated.

FEMA’s Edie Lohmann calls the overlapping wildfire season and monsoon season a “double disaster.” “There’s no vegetation. The ground is charred,” she said. “Just to give you a visual, it would be like someone putting a plastic tarp over a hill or ground area and then dropping buckets of water from a helicopter on that tarp. The velocity of that water is so much quicker than it normally would be, and that water goes right into people’s homes and they don’t see it coming.”

According to Lohmann, the flooding risk can exist up to five years after a wildfire. Still, most people don’t have flood insurance. “Most people think that their homeowners policy will cover them for just about everything, and in fact, in general, a homeowners policy will not cover you for flooding,” Lohmann cautioned. “That needs to be a separate conversation with your insurance agent.”

Recently, FEMA introduced a new rating system to more accurately determine flooding risks. “It is uniquely tailored to every individual building, and it’s priced according to those risks,” Lohmann said. Under the new system, FEMA estimates that 25% of Arizona flood insurance policy holders will see their premiums decrease, while 68% will pay up to $10 more. Another 5% will see increases in premiums between $10 and $20. Two percent will pay at least $20 more. Most flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period.