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Flood insurance in the desert? You may need it

Get it now before the monsoon hits
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Posted at 1:01 PM, May 27, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — People tend to think of Memorial Day as the kick off to summer—and around here that means extreme storms from the monsoon are not far away. So it’s time to add some extra protection against what storms can do to your property.

You could look around you and easily say, “We are in the desert, why on Earth would I need flood insurance?” But there’s an excellent chance you really do, and now is the time you want to line it up.

The 49ers neighborhood is so lush and green it hardly seems like part of the Sonoran Desert but it is and it has something else you wouldn’t expect in the desert: a risk of flooding.

Camille Hall of Pima County Flood Control says, “In this neighborhood, you look around and you think it's a really nice neighborhood. What could possibly go wrong? The sun is shining, it looks totally unassuming to a flood risk, but it's actually on a floodplain. So a lot of homeowners in this area could experience six feet, one foot up to two feet or more of flooding if a hundred year flood event could occur.”

Intense monsoon storms can drop several inches of rain in a very short time.

You may have never seen a flood near your property but conditions can change.

Recently, a Foothills neighborhood near Skyline and Columbus was in a recognized floodplain but did not have much history of serious flooding.

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The aftermath of the Bighorn Fire two years ago led to mudslides slamming into some homes along Havasu Road in the Foothills. Now Pima County is considering buying those homes and tearing them down.

Then the BigHorn Fire burned trees and smaller plants off the side of Mount Lemmon. When heavy rains came, there was less to prevent water and mud rushing down the side of the mountain and into the homes.

With monsoon coming soon, Pima County Flood Control is urging homeowners—and renters to make sure they have flood insurance to cover their homes and what’s in them. It does not come standard with a homeowners policy and you have to buy it well before the big storms hit.

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The inside of a home in the Catalina Foothills that was hit with monsoonal flooding in 2022.

Camille Hall says, “This is the time to start thinking about flood insurance, especially because a lot of flood insurance policies have a 30 day wait period. So you do not want to wait till the last minute to get it and then if something were to happen you wouldn't be covered.”

The Pima County Flood Control website has information to help you assess how high your flood risk is, and will help you connect to the coverage that’s right for you.

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Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing craig.smith@kgun9.com or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.