ONLY ON KOLD: Flood dangers - Tucson News Now

ONLY ON KOLD: Flood dangers

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The rushing Santa Cruz River and flooding that caused a haz-mat concern on Valencia Road are vivid memories of the monsoon's grand finale in 2011. Amada Quijada often has a front row seat to these events.

"They do get worse,” she said.

She has lived along the El Vado wash for more than a decade. As she watches the waters rise, flood insurance forces her to tread water financially.

"Unfortunately the flood insurance is more expensive than the home insurance,” Quijada said.

Water has risen above the bottom of her door and her daughter has been evacuated from the home by police.

"So they can get her out safely, because all the area was flooded,” Quijada said.

"It's a public safety issue,” said Bill Zimmerman, deputy director of the Pima County Regional Flood Control District.

The district recommends twelve projects that cost about $10.78 million to lower the flooding level in the Airport Wash area on the south side, west of Tucson International Airport to I-19. The work should protect property and cut hundreds of dollars' worth of flood insurance for many here each year.

"It lowers their rates, and it also removes the requirement to even have it,” Zimmerman said.

The boundary of the 100-year flood along the Arroyo Chico was farther north on Plumer. But after improvements and a new survey, the boundary is hundreds of feet closer, which requires fewer homeowners with federally backed mortgages to pay for flood insurance.

"Even people we take out of the floodplains when we remap, we recommend that they maintain their flood insurance. But, it's going to be at a reduced rate,” Zimmerman said.

Based on the risk, flood insurance can cost a homeowner fifteen hundred dollars a year or more.

That can be cut to less than a third of that amount, about four hundred dollars, if the district determines that the home is no longer in the floodplain, and the district lets FEMA know.

"I've seen very few restudies that put more people in the floodplain than take them out,” Zimmerman said.

Recent studies include the area south of Finger Rock, just west of Swan Road and south to River Road. The district did not add homes or structures to the floodplain but removed 39.

To the southwest of Tucson, in the Black Wash area, 243 properties were removed from the floodplain. None were added.

The good news for homeowners is that when the floodplain expands, the district usually does not tell FEMA, which keeps flood insurance rates low for those homeowners. That is welcome news to Quijada. But her main concern is something any mother can understand.

"Just making sure the kids are safe because my son has to cross the wash, actually, when he goes to school,” Quijada said.

Checking with your insurance company is always recommended. Damage caused by surface water, such as from a wash or that runs from your yard into your home, usually is not covered by homeowners’ insurance. Flood insurance is usually needed to cover such damage. Check with your insurance company.

You can check your flood risk and what you might pay in flood insurance at this link: https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/

 Copyright 2014 Tucson News Now. All rights reserved.
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