Salem, Ore. – After a devastating season of wildfires, many Oregon property owners are now at risk  for flash floods and mudflows resulting from scorched landscapes and burn scars. Wildfires destroy  vegetation that supports and strengthens hillsides. Without plants to hold the earth in place, even a  small amount of rain can start a mudflow. This can happen quickly and with little warning. 

Property owners don’t have to take on all the risk themselves, because mudflow coverage is part of a  standard policy from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).  

“A flood-insurance policy with NFIP is an affordable way for residents of Oregon to protect investments in their homes, personal property and businesses,” said FEMA Federal Coordinating  Officer Dolph Diemont, in charge of federal efforts for the Oregon wildfire recovery. “Just an inch of  water in the average home can cause $25,000 in damage, so having flood insurance can mean the  difference between financial recovery and financial devastation.” 

Mudflow is covered subject to the definition of flooding in the NFIP Standard Flood Insurance Policy  (SFIP). The SFIP defines mudflow as “a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surfaces of normally dry  land areas, as when earth is carried by a current of water.” A complete copy of the NFIP policy,  including the definition of flooding and mudflow, is available here. 

Mudflows are sudden, costly and destructive. Unfortunately, the recent wildfires have increased the  risk of mudflows for anyone whose home is downhill from a fire-scorched area. That increased risk  lasts for several years until enough new vegetation takes root. 

Homeowners may think their property is safe because it has never flooded before, but after a  wildfire, flash floods and mudslides aren’t limited to high-risk areas. 

Take action now and protect yourself with an NFIP policy, which offers flood insurance coverage to  property owners, renters and business owners. The maximum coverage available for a residential 

building is $250,000 and $100,000 for contents. Non-residential (commercial) structures are  eligible for maximum coverage of $500,000 on the building and $500,000 on contents. For  additional information and to purchase an NFIP policy, contact your insurance agent today. 

Generally, there is a 30-day waiting period before an NFIP policy becomes effective. Those at risk of  flooding or mudflows are encouraged to buy flood insurance now as winter rains will soon be here. 

Please be advised, when rebuilding or building please check with local building officials and your  local floodplain administrator. For more information on NFIP insurance, call FEMA’s Helpline at 800-621-3362 (TTY 800-462- 7585), or visit www.floodsmart.gov. Those who have already made a decision to buy flood insurance  now, can visit www.floodsmart.gov/flood-insurance/buy.

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