COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo (CBS4) – Victims of the wildfires across Colorado are still reeling from the devastation and damage the flames left behind. Now they face a new threat — flooding.
Rain is forecast for Colorado in the next few days and residents in the burn areas are being warned that they’re susceptible further damage to their property.
“I guess I better investigate flood insurance,” said Sylvia, a resident in the Waldo Canyon Fire burn area.
Colorado Springs city officials held a meeting for residents Thursday to warn them of the danger. Large scale wildfires dramatically change the terrain. Vegetation that would normally absorb rainfall and reduce runoff is gone in a burn area. After a wildfire, the ground is charred and ripe for flash flooding.
“If we get the worst case scenario which is 1 or 2 or more inches of rain in that burn area, we’re going to be looking at some significant water down through town,” said Mark Snyder, the Mayor of Manitou Springs.
The U.S. Forest Service is mapping the burn area and examining the soil, but the reality is they won’t be able to stop the flooding. So the message to residents in this meeting is find out about flood insurance.
When you buy flood insurance, there’s a 30-day waiting period before it goes into effect. So homeowners who buy flood insurance now will still be unprotected this weekend, but it will cover them for the long haul.
“I’ve heard estimates ranging from a couple of years to 10 years that we’ll be having these types of threats with extensive amounts of water coming down,” Snyder said at the meeting.
When it comes to flood insurance, there is pending legislation that would wave that 30-day waiting period. It passed through Congress, and now awaits the President’s signature. But even if it was signed today, it wouldn’t help residents in Colorado Springs. It would take some time to implement the new law.
– Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith