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Coconino County, City of Flagstaff urge residents to ‘immediately’ purchase flood insurance following Pipeline Fire

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Coconino County and City of Flagstaff residents below fire-impacted watersheds are at an increased risk of flooding following the Pipeline Fire, according to statements released Friday.

“Residents whose homes are in the neighborhoods of Creighton Estates, Forest Hills, Cheshire, Coyote Springs, Anasazi Ridge, Coconino Estates, Ridge Crest, Rock Ridge Estates, Clark Homes, Flagstaff Townsite, North End, Downtown Flagstaff or Southside and whose homes are located within a FEMA Zone A, AE, AH, or shaded X should immediately purchase or maintain flood insurance,” a city release said, adding that “Homeowners insurance policies do no cover flood damage and coverage must be purchased separately.”

A map of Flagstaff neighborhoods is available at https://bit.ly/3xWzDSF. A map of FEMA floodplain designations by address is available at https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home.

Coconino County has also urged residents, particularly those in the Timberline, Fernwood, Wupatki Trails and Doney Park neighborhoods, to plan for flooding following the Pipeline Fire. Post-wildfire flooding is a known phenomenon throughout Flagstaff that has wreaked havoc on the community in multiple instances, most recently during the 2021 flooding beneath the Museum Fire scar.

Estimations of increased flood risk following the Pipeline Fire based on “preliminary flood hazard modeling,” and more robust and accurate assessment of flood risk will come with the U.S. Forest Service’s Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) analysis, which expected to be released next week. But with rain in the forecast as early as Saturday, city and county partners are urging residents to prepare in case the worst should come.

Both suggest that residents obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

“Flood insurance is the only way for residents to be compensated for flood damage on private property,” the city release states. “If your insurance agent is not aware of the procedures for selling flood insurance policies, then please contact NFIP at 1-877-336-2627 for a referral. You can also find a local insurance agent at www.floodsmart.gov. Properties that are in a post-wildfire flood environment may be eligible for expedited coverage and reduced waiting periods.”

Residents are also encouraged to sign up for emergency alerts from the county by visiting www.coconino.az.gov/ready or calling 928-679-8311. The county requests that residents familiarize themselves with the "Ready, Set, Shelter," flood response system, in which the final step is not to evacuate, but shelter in place. According to the county release, flood damage may also be mitigated through the use of sandbag walls, addressing roof leaks before a rain event, and by clearing gutters and downspouts so that water can drain properly. 

While the Pipeline Fire may have increased flood risk in some areas, it has not impacted the Spruce Wash Watershed and the neighborhoods affected by the Museum Fire flooding. Both the city and county are continuing with flood mitigation projects and maintenance intended to alleviate flood severity in previously affected flood zones.

For county-related information about flooding and Pipeline Fire, visit www.coconino.az.gov/PipelineFire. For questions related to FEMA floodplains, please call the City of Flagstaff Stormwater Department at 928-213-2472. For other questions, please contact Sarah Langley, City of Flagstaff public affairs director, at sarah.langley@flagstaffaz.gov or 928-853-5596.

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