9OYS Special Coverage: Blazing Arizona

Flood insurance recommended for Monument Fire residents

CREATED Jun. 29, 2011 - UPDATED: Jun. 30, 2011

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Reporter: Sergio Avila
Web Producer: Layla Tang

HEREFORD, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - The Monument Fire in Cochise County is now 92 percent contained. While firefighters are hoping for more monsoon rains to help them finish the job, the rainfall could also potentially cause more problems to residents affected by the fire. The new worry is flooding. Since the fire stripped the hillsides of trees and other plants that usually deter erosion, mud slides and floods are now serious threats.

Insurance agents were hard at work Wednesday handing out flood insurance quotes. Lydia Neave lives across from Highway 92. She got a insurance quote on Wednesday morning.

"There's nothing left to hold things back, so we are concerned because we're on the downside of the mountain. So it does make it a cause for concern," Neave told KGUN9's Sergio Avila.

Ginger Hernandez is one of the insurance agents hard at work getting quotes for fire-weary residents. She said the flood insurance program is regulated by the federal government and that shopping around won't do people any good since the rates will always be the same. Prices can range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on the risk level of the area.

"Does that mean someone's rates could be upped because of what has recently happened here?" Avila asked, referring to the Monument Fire and the destruction it caused.

"They haven't re-mapped anything at this point, so what just happened is probably not going to affect the rates any differently than if someone would have gotten insurance 30 days ago," Hernandez answered.

She listed some other things homeowners need to know before purchasing flood insurance.

"They also need to let us know exactly how many separate structures there are along the premises because unlike a homeowners' policy, there's no included coverage. So if they want coverage for a detached garage or a shed, they actually have to give a value and insure each one separately," Hernandez explained.

Homeowners can't just buy a flood policy for only the monsoon months. The policies are only sold on an annual basis, and homeowners have to be ready to pay the entire premium up front.

Residents also need to keep in mind that once they buy a policy, it won't go into effect for 30 days. Hernandez recommends that homeowners in the Monument Fire area act quickly if they plan to get flood insurance.

In the meantime, the U.S. Forest Service is working to protect homes from flooding and mud slides. A squad called the Burned Area Emergency Response team, or BAER, is currently working to survey the burned areas and build safeguards against flooding.