Many of the hillside and canyon areas burned by the Thomas Fire will have a high risk of flooding and erosion due to the soil that has been burned and developed a hard surface that will absorb less rainfall and create more surface runoff. Burned areas are now laden with ash and debris that may be transported with the surface runoff. The large volumes of ash and debris may be destructive to many properties this rainy season. The Ventura County Public Works Agency recommends that property owners with buildings, especially in and below the Thomas Fire burn areas, consider purchasing flood insurance. Most homeowner’s policies that protect against fire damage exclude damage caused by flood.
Most of the Thomas Fire burn areas are in FEMA designated Flood Zones X (unshaded), X-(shaded), and D. Most of the hillside flood zones carry a low-cost annual policy. Flood Zones A, AE, AH, AO, A-99, and VE are Special Flood Hazard Areas that have a higher probability and history of flooding. Flood insurance premiums are higher in those flood zones because the risk of flooding is higher.
FEMA’s Floodplain Zone search by property address is: https://msc.fema.gov/portal/search
Flood insurance pricing varies based on the flood zone that the property is located in. There are two types of flood insurance – one that covers building damage and the second covers building contents. FEMA has prepared a six-page information booklet entitled “National Flood Insurance Program Summary of Coverage, FEMA F-679 / November 2012” which discusses the various coverages. This document is available at:
Homeowners can only purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent; they cannot purchase it directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Referral Call Center at (888)379-9531 to request an agent referral.
Once a Flood Insurance Policy is purchased, coverage becomes effective in 30 days later.
FEMA has created a Q&A webpage that answers questions related to flood insurance at:
If you are located in the unincorporated County of Ventura and have questions related to floodplains, you may call the County of Ventura Public Works Permit Counter at 805-654-2423. If you are within a city, please call the City Engineer for assistance with FEMA Flood Insurance Mapping and Floodplain Management questions.