As a Colorado insurance agency, we have been closely following the local wildfires. Now that the fires have subsided, Colorado is facing yet another risk: flash flooding and mud slides. Much of Central Colorado and Colorado Springs was under flash flood warnings over the weekend and on into this week. Rain seems like a good thing to such a scorched area –so why does it pose such a problem?
When the Ground Rules Change
Fire not only scorches everything surface, it also burns the ground. This charred ground cannot easily absorb water, thus increasing the risk of flooding. The burned area’s flood and mud flow risk are increased over several years.
When Foliage Falls
When trees and brush are obliterated from fire, the look of the landscape isn’t the only that changes. The removal of ground cover completely changes the way the land funnels rainwater. In addition, the vegetation serves to absorb rainwater as well. Without this buffer of foliage,much is at stake in the event of a rainstorm.
Incinerated plants actually give off a waxy substance thatcovers the area. It creates a water-repellant coating over much of the charred landscape. Not only does this increase flood risk, it also increases the risk of erosion.
When Drano is Not An Option
Rainwater washes all of the debris and ash leftover in the aftermath of the fire into rivers and streams in the area. This clogs the area waterways and of course, further transforms natural water flow and heightens flood risk.
Know Your Flood Risk Following Fire
It will take some time for the land to heal, but Coloradoans can be prepared by knowing the flood risks within their own communities and neighborhoods. As a Colorado insurance agency, we of course must remind our clients of the benefits of having flood insurance. Although you may not live on the coast or maybe even near a major water way, drastic changes in the landscape can have a direct effect flood risk within your community.