Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs, Colorado have experienced severe fires both last year and this year. In June of 2012, the Waldo Canyon fire ravaged almost 19,000 acres, killed two people, and destroyed 347 homes. The Black Forest fire that happened in June of this year torched over 14,200 acres, killed two people and destroyed 509 homes.
Most people breathe a sigh of relief once the fire is over, if their home was untouched by the blaze. Those who lost their homes face the task of putting their life back together and deciding whether to rebuild. Many assume the worst is over once the fire is out, but as the floods in Manitou Springs, Colorado show us, sometimes what comes after the fire can be every bit as devastating.
On August 9th, about 1.5 inches of rain fell in the Waldo Canyon area. A wave of water, mud, rocks and fallen trees swept down Highway 24 inundating cars on the road and slammed into Manitou Springs. Two people lost their lives, about 40 cars were tossed around, and homes & businesses had anywhere from several inches to several feet of mud washed into them. The Good Karma coffee shop’s basement was filled with 6 feet of mud from the torrent.
The August 9th flood was the fourth most major flood in the area this year. What it shows us is there’s a new risk for flooding and mudslides once the fire’s put out due to the loss of vegetation in the burn area. The Waldo Canyon fire happened last year and that is not enough time for the vegetation to return to hold a hillside in the event of a heavy rain. It can take two to ten years for the vegetation to return to a level capable of holding a hillside after such a rain.
The last two years have seen devastating fires in Colorado, California, New Mexico, and Texas. In each of these cases, the danger for a flash flood or mud slide is very real. The damage to a home or business is not covered under a home owner’s policy, nor is it covered by the commercial property policy. It’s only covered by a flood policy.
The normal waiting period for a flood policy is 30 days from the date the payment is received by the flood insurance company, unless it’s required for a new home purchase. In locations that are near or downstream of a burn area, FEMA may waive the 30 day waiting period enabling home and business owner’s the ability to put flood coverage into effect as soon as the premium payment is processed.
If you happen to live or have a business near one of these areas, consider obtaining flood insurance. Just because you dodged one “bullet” does not mean you’ll miss the second one. Share your thoughts, experiences, or questions with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Google + and Facebook pages. We’ll all learn something from each other.