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Protection Against Flooding After Wildfires: Buy Flood Insurance Now

Release date: 
January 28, 2019
Release Number: 
DR-4407-CA NR 040

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Californians remember well the Thomas Wildfire of December 2017 — at the time the most destructive and deadliest fire in the state’s history. Early the next month, an intense storm dropped four inches of rain on Montecito and other parts of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

Mud and debris flows up to 15 feet high moved downstream, pushing boulders and branches in their path at speeds of up to 20 mph. A 30-mile stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway was closed to traffic, buried under two feet of mud and debris.

After fire, comes the flood. Wildfires carry a one-two punch.

After the damage caused by wildfires, flooding is the most common and costly natural hazard in the nation. After November’s record-breaking wildfires in California, the risk of flash flooding and mud flows – even after a light rain – increased significantly.

The time to buy flood insurance is now.

Homeowners, renters and business owners need to protect their homes and assets from devastating financial loss from a flood, especially after a wildfire, before the next weather event occurs.

The record-setting Camp, Hill and Woolsey wildfires left the ground they devastated charred, barren and unable to absorb water, creating just the right conditions for flash flooding and mudflow. Normally, vegetation absorbs rainfall, reducing runoff. But after a wildfire the risk of flooding remains significantly higher – for up to five years – until vegetation is restored.

Residents and business owners must protect themselves and their property by purchasing flood insurance today. There is a 30-day waiting period until insurance coverage takes effect – more reason not to delay.

Flood insurance is affordable – an easy and inexpensive way to protect an investment in homes, properties and businesses. Just an inch of water in an average-sized home can cause more than $25,000 in damage. An average flood insurance policy costs less than $900 a year. Rates for homes in moderate- to low-risk areas start at about $500 a year.

Flooding knows no limits. Even property not directly impacted by the wildfires can be at increased risk of flooding. All surrounding areas are at risk of flooding for several years after a wildfire. To learn more visit

Good to know: Flood insurance issued by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) covers damage to property caused by mudflow as defined in the standard NFIP policy.

For more information about flood risk and flood insurance, call your insurance agent or contact NFIP at 800-427-4661 or


All FEMA disaster assistance will be provided without discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex (including sexual harassment), religion, national origin, age, disability, limited English proficiency, economic status, or retaliation. If you believe your civil rights are being violated, call 800-621-3362 or 800-462-7585(TTY/TDD).

FEMA’s mission: Helping people before, during and after disasters.

The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955, emailing, or visiting SBA’s website at Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

Last Updated: 
January 28, 2019 - 14:54