FEMA Worries About Floods in Fire-Damaged Areas

The 2011 Wildfire season has seen a lot of devastation. Now, federal officials are raising concerns about flooding in the areas affected by wildfire. The worry is that the burned areas will be more prone to water running off.

Young County Judge John Bullock is not as worried for his county. Of the 5,000 acres burned during the PK Complex Fire in Young County, most of it was on flat land. He said the terrain down near Possum Kingdom might have more to worry about. It didn't have much soil there to begin with and it was basically mulch that the grass and anything there was growing on. All of that surface has been burned virtually clean so any of the heavier rains that will run much water on those hills and valleys down and around PK could wash substantially," he said.

FEMA is urging homeowners within the affected area to get flood insurance – saying that regular homeowners' policies do not cover flooding. The agency gave the advice in a press release:

A flood insurance policy is the best option for property owners and renters to safeguard their homes and belongings from flood losses. Most flood insurance is written through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is administered by FEMA. Due to the waiting period, NFIP policies become effective 30 days after the premium is paid. 

"Don't wait until the forecast calls for a downpour before deciding to insure against flood damage," said Kevin L. Hannes, FEMA's federal coordinating officer for the wildfire recovery mission. "Purchasing an NFIP policy now will give you some peace of mind should a flood occur." 

Less than half of the floods in the U.S. result in a federal disaster declaration, while NFIP pays claims even if a disaster is not declared, Hannes noted. What's more, one out of every four claims paid are from areas at medium-to-low risk of flooding, he said. 

Officials said homeowners and renters should check with their insurance professionals about the coverage.

Paul Harrop, Newschannel 6