Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, Jan. 22

Local agencies seeing little interest in policies for those near Doce Fire burn area

While homes in Yavapai County can be covered under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), not everyone takes advantage of it.

County officials, however, are urging those in the area of the Doce fire to consider flood insurance for their properties because of possible flood concerns.

These concerns come three years after the 15,000-acre Schultz fire north of Flagstaff. A month after the blaze, monsoons flooded a residential neighborhood downhill from the burn area and killed a 12-year-old girl who was caught in the flood's path.

Officials estimated the cost of the fire and subsequent flooding at over $130 million.

With monsoons gearing up in the tri-city area, Yavapai County Flood Control District personnel see a potential for flooding along the Mint Creek area near Prescott. Monsoons could produce heavy mudflows and flows of debris and ash from the Doce fire.

County officials discussed post-fire flooding during a community open house Wednesday at the Central Yavapai Fire Station, at the corner of Williamson Valley Road and Outer Loop Road.

The open house included discussion on a waiver of the 30-day waiting period for those around the burn area who want flood insurance. That waiver, according to the Yavapai County Flood Control website, applies to flood claims resulting from a wildland fire on federal lands.

Yavapai County Flood Control District Director Charlie Cave said the waiver of the 30-day wait period is a new effort from FEMA's NFIP.

"It is new information," Cave said. "We're not in the insurance business here at the county, but we have a lot of info on it and are happy to talk to folks."

When it comes to waivers, State Farm agent Misty Gray said she was unaware of the classification.

"We have a call into NFIP right now. We didn't know anything about a 'no-waiting' period. Usually there's a 30-day waiting period on a flood insurance policy that's not required for closing," Gray said.

While once covered under homeowner insurance policies, coverage moved to federal control in the late 1960s when private insurance companies began to drop flood insurance from their programs due to profit loss.

While most don't consider flood insurance in the Prescott area, the potential for floods does exist, Gray said.

"As far as I know we've only gotten one call inquiring about it," Gray said. "There is high risk for flooding when the vegetation is burned up, since there's nothing stopping the water flow. We saw a lot of that happen in Flagstaff after they had that big fire. In our area we don't typically see a lot of flood situations, but it certainly can happen. Any groundwater that enters the home is considered flood and not covered under your homeowners insurance with any company."

Local insurance agents can write the policy for clients, she said.

"It's insured by the government," Gray said. "It's something we offer to our customers that want flood insurance, but it's actually through FEMA. Most policies we sell are for State Farm, but flood insurance is only a government policy."

Flood insurance costs can range from $200 a year to more than $2,000 a year, depending on the property and the flood zone classification where the residence is located. The type of home construction can also play a factor in the cost.

More information on flood insurance can be found online at www.floodsmart.gov.

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