Flooding: Know Your Risk by Montrose County Commissioner Keith Caddy

Growing up in the valley, I have lived through years of both drought and flooding. Following last year’s struggles with wildfire, drought, and record high temperatures, this farming season is shaping up to be very different. The fields are green — even parts of the adobe areas have ground cover sprouting up. As the temperatures continue to climb, the county has not seen the end of the flooding from run-off and increased spring rains.

Last week, residents off Marine Road experienced flooding. To date, one home took on water, and the water levels were coming near others. The water level was high enough in the road that the postal service was not able to deliver mail (including bills, paychecks and more). The county felt it was in the best interest of the several-hundred individuals living in the area to provide assistance. Thank you again to the following volunteers and agencies involved for the efforts to remediate floodwaters in the area: Haynes Excavation, ATC, Colorado Department of Emergency Management, Montrose County Jail Inmates, City of Montrose Public Works and Gunnison County.

Floods are among the most common weather hazards in the United States. They can happen anywhere at any time of year. Do you know if you live in a floodplain? To find out, please visit msc.fema.gov/portal/search and enter your address. If you live in or near a flood plain, I strongly recommend insurance. Please contact your insurance agent for more information.

Montrose County is home to a complicated irrigation system and several natural flowing streams and creeks. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the natural waterways, and the county is not allowed to legally alter, modify, or engage in mitigation work on these waterways. The county can liaise with the Corps to work on mitigation efforts on a project-by-project basis. The majority of flooding, however, occurs on private property. I encourage you to take steps to protect your property and house if you live on or near an area with flooding potential. Know where to find sandbags and resources if needed and plan.

Be prepared — with knowledge and a plan — to decrease the impacts of a disaster. To begin a plan, first think of the five P’s: people, pets, prescriptions, photos, and personal computer. These five things should be considered when developing a plan. Visit ready.gov for plan examples and other preparedness tips. Having a 72-hour kit and resources readily available in the time of any emergency eases panic and improves your response to the situation.

Montrose County is here to help. Emergency Manager Greg Fisher works under the Sheriff’s Office and leads the county’s emergency planning efforts. Fisher also manages response to disasters. Don’t worry, the county will be involved when the situation is life-threatening or requires evacuations; the county may be involved when infrastructure is threatened or when the negative impacts to the community are overwhelming. Finally, do not forget to sign-up for the county’s emergency notification system CodeRED at montrosecountysheriffsoffice.com.

You can reach me by email at kcaddy@montrosecounty.net or by phone at 970-249-7755 to continue talking about flooding and waterways.

Appears in the Montrose Press on Sunday, May 12, 2019

Wildland Fire Insurance: Property and Financial Preparedness

Wildfires continue to be a growing threat in the Rocky Mountain Region where population is booming in high-risk wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas. While many people move to and live in Colorado for its forests, mountains and breathtaking views, they don’t always see the potential risks of losing their homes to wildfire – even in suburban neighborhoods. It is critical homeowners understand the risks of living in wildfire prone areas, the potential insurance impacts and what steps they should take to protect themselves, their property and personal finances.

Wildland Fires and Insurance

Homeowners insurance typically covers property losses caused by wildfire and coverage continues to be available in most wildfire prone areas. Although, individual risk factors affect insurance premiums and availability, so cost and ability to obtain insurance will vary based on company policies. And, with increasing risk for devastating wildfires, residents should be aware of some important factors. Many insurance companies require customers to share the wildfire risk by taking precautions to protect their property, requiring on-site inspections and notifying policyholders of necessary mitigation that will reduce risk to their home and keep it insurable.

Examples of additional insurance considerations

• The type of construction, materials, and features on your home, including the roofing, windows and siding as well as slope and emergency vehicle access.
• Distance to a fire hydrant and a fire station, whether your neighborhood is protected by full-time and/or part-time firefighters, and any factors that affect the time it would take to extinguish a fire in your area. *Ask your local fire department about your area’s ISO Wildfire Protection Classification Rating for potential safety and insurance impacts.
• Insurers consider many individual and geographical risk factors beyond wildfire that affect premiums and insurability, such as hail proneness and unique construction.
• Do annual policy “checkups” with your insurance professional to keep up with local building costs, home remodeling and inventories of personal belongings.
• Consider replacement cost coverage that provides additional protection and update policy limits to rebuild or repair your home for what it would cost in the current building market.
• Accurate inventories of personal possessions make for faster and smoother claims’ settlements. Photos and videos offer easy ways to document your possessions. Most insurers and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC.org) offer free home inventory apps. Bottom Line: Contact your insurance company or agent to find out what prevention steps may be required to help reduce your wildfire risk. State & local fire officials can also help with tips and resources to assist you in mitigating your property. For general insurance information and wildfire property & financial preparedness contact the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association at rmiia.org or the Colorado Division of Insurance at dora.colorado.gov/insurance.
Learn more by downloading and reading the “Colorado Property & Insurance Wildfire Preparedness Guide”.

Insurance Resources

• Colorado Project Wildfire
• Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association
• Colorado Division of Insurance at Department of Regulatory Agencies
• National Flood Insurance Program Summary of Coverage

Source: National Flood Insurance Program at www.Floodsmart.gov
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Montrose County Office of Emergency Management Flood Mitigation Efforts

Thank you to everyone who helped sandbag and assist with the flooding situation in Heritage Estates this week. Montrose County Office of Emergency Management, Haynes Excavation Inc., Montrose County Sheriff’s Office, City of Montrose Colorado Government Public Works, Gunnison County, CO Government, Montrose County Sheriff’s Posse, ATC, Colorado Office of Emergency Management, and many community members jumped in to help. We are happy to report that the flooding has receded.