Oro Valley proactive in aftermath of Bighorn Fire: floods follow fires

Published on June 19, 2020

Storm approaching Oro Valley

Update: This is an update to the earlier version of this press release. The Town has added additional information and instructions to assist residents with determining their floodplain status.

Update to Item 1 in the “What the Public Can Do” section: To check your property’s floodplain status submit your information to the Oro Valley Stormwater Utility. Note: the Town is waiving the $15 fee due to the Bighorn Fire.

Contact information update: For individuals concerned about flooding and floodplain determination due to the on-going Bighorn Fire, please contact Oro Valley Stormwater Utility @ 520-229-4816 or email at stwov@orovalleyaz.gov

Original release:
The Town of Oro Valley is reviewing the impacts that seasonal storms could create within the upstream watersheds due to the Bighorn Fire. The damage to the trees, foliage and soil caused by a wildfire increases the possibility of flooding and may affect downstream residents in the short term and the long term. In addition to informing you of the steps the Town is taking, the Town is encouraging residents to take action to protect their homes from possible flooding.

“The timing of the fire occurring just before the start of monsoon is unfortunate, but there are things the Town will be doing to help prevent damage from flooding,” said Public Works Director Paul Keesler. “The impacts of a forest fire on flooding can occur immediately, or they can take a few years for all the sediment and debris to accumulate and cause flooding. The Town is taking action now, and we’re asking the public to look into what they can do to protect themselves and their property or business.”

What the Town of Oro Valley’s Public Works Department is doing to prepare for post-wildfire floods:

  1. Coordinating with the Forest Service and Pima County Regional Flood Control District to assess flood and fire conditions
  2. Identifying watersheds affected by the fire and assessing impacts change the amount of runoff
  3. Identifying Town infrastructure that needs to be cleaned out and assessing how the impacts change the amount of runoff
  4. Identifying and implementing possible flooding protection measures
  5. Determining vulnerable properties and contacting those property owners
  6. Coordinating with ADOT to ensure drainages underneath Oracle Road are cleaned out
  7. Reaching out to homeowners, businesses and homeowner associations in the affected areas

What the public can do:

  1. Review the floodplain map and familiarize yourself with routes to and from your home, apartment or office to avoid driving through areas that might potentially flood.
  2. Determine if you need to purchase flood insurance. Even if you are not in a flood zone, homeowners, renters and business owners should protect themselves financially when it comes to flood hazards. Flood insurance is available to all. Under post-wildfire conditions, there is a possible post-wildfire exemption and the standard 30-day waiting period for new insurance policies may not apply if:  
    • The covered property experiences damage caused by flood that originated on Federal land
    • Post-wildfire conditions on Federal lands caused or worsened the flooding; and
    • The policyholder purchased the policy either before the fire containment date, or during the 60-day calendar-day period following the fire containment date
  3. Prepare and have sandbags ready. Learn more.
  4. Individual and family preparedness—build a kit, have a plan, be informed www.ready.gov
  5. Sign up for Oro Valley Code Red emergency notifications and Pima County MyAlerts
  6. Read up on the Ready, Set, Go program used for evacuations https://ein.az.gov/ready-set-go
  7. Read the Stormwater Monsoon Preparedness guide

“All residents living below the areas impacted by the Bighorn Fire should look into purchasing flood insurance before monsoon arrives. If you are near a wash that doesn’t have a mapped floodplain, contact the Town to see if your property might be affected by post-wildfire flooding to help you determine whether flood insurance is appropriate,” added Keesler. “The post-wildfire exception for flood insurance is important to understand.”

Wildfires: You Need Flood Insurance - www.fema.gov/wildfires-you-need-flood-insurance
National Flood Insurance Program - www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
Town of Oro Valley Stormwater Utility Division
Pima County Regional Flood Control District
Be Flood Safe – www.pima.gov/befloodsafe
Floods Follow Fires – www.pima.gov/floodsfollowfires

For more information contact AskOV at ask@orovalleyaz.gov or call 520-229-4711