PASADENA, Calif. -- In California, the three most important keys to preserving value in real estate are location, location and mitigation. Mitigation is the ten-dollar word that describes a billion-dollar need?strengthening property against future natural disasters such as wildfire and floods.
Researchers who viewed the effects of the October and November wildfires in Southern California found that flood hazard areas have expanded into more residential areas. The wildfires reduced vegetation and therefore the amount of rainwater absorption, which means increased flood risk.
Vegetation burn-off could destabilize hillsides for the next two to five years. Homes and businesses near burn areas could face volumes of mud, uprooted trees and anything else that gets in the way of rainwater and gravity, scientists say.
Teams of building specialists from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have been visiting home improvement stores throughout Southern California to provide free advice about how to build firewise, strong and safe homes and businesses. A recent Penn State University study showed that every dollar spent to strengthen property yields four dollars of reduced damage costs in future disasters. Mitigation saves lives, reduces injuries and protects the environment.
A quick way to prepare for storm damage is to buy flood insurance. State and federal officials say that in the seven-county wildfire disaster area, 81,000 California property owners have flood insurance?only 1 percent of the 7 million households. Most federal disaster assistance comes in the form of a low-interest loan that must be repaid over a 30-year period at maybe $250 per month. In comparison, a whole year of flood insurance averages only $628 in California.
With a 30-day delay before a new policy takes effect, the onset of the rainy season should prompt more owners and renters to consider flood insurance now. National Flood Insurance Program policies are sold by private insurance agents and backed by FEMA. Insurance is available for homeowners, renters and business owners.
To learn the flood risk to any property, visit www.floodsmart.gov or call the local city or county floodplain manager.
FEMA coordinates the federal government?s role in preparing for, preventing, mitigating the effects of, responding to, and recovering from all domestic disasters, whether natural or man-made, including acts of terror.