OAKLAND, Calif. – Because wildfires can make the ground more vulnerable to flooding, FEMA encourages those who live near land that has suffered from a wildfire to protect their homes with flood insurance, even if their home hasn’t flooded before. Residents who live near wildfires on federal lands, such as the Thomas Fire, may be eligible to receive coverage immediately for a future flood without the typical 30-day wait.
In general, newly purchased flood insurance policies become effective following a 30-day waiting period. However, the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 provided an additional exception to this requirement related to flooding caused by post-wildfire conditions, referred to as the “Post-Wildfire Exception.”
Under the Post-Wildfire Exception, those purchasing a flood insurance policy may not be required to meet the 30-day waiting period for their new flood insurance policy, if
a flood that originates on federal land damages the policyholder’s property;
post-wildfire conditions on federal lands caused or worsened the flooding; and
the policyholder purchased the policy either:
before the fire containment date or
during the 60-calendar day period following the fire containment date.
The National Interagency Fire Center determined that the Thomas Fire was contained on January 12, 2018.
Regardless of the waiting period, FEMA encourages everyone to consider buying flood insurance, as those who are insured recover more quickly and more fully following a flood.
“We are urging residents to purchase a flood insurance policy to protect their family and home today, before the next storm hits,” said FEMA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Insurance and Mitigation Roy Wright. “The NFIP recognizes that some situations are unique. It’s important that residents in California know that it’s not too late to purchase flood insurance.”
Wildfires may char the ground to the point where it can no longer absorb water quickly—creating the ideal conditions for flash flooding and mudflows that can strike without warning. Burnt ground can be affected for about five years, which is why residents are encouraged to take important steps to protect their families and homes by purchasing flood insurance. NFIP flood insurance policies cover damage from flooding and mudflows.
For more information about flood risk and flood insurance, visit, www.fema.gov/flood-after-fire.