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Flood risk higher in burned areas

Mail Tribune / Jamie Lusch Jackson County officials are urging residents to consider whether they need flood insurance, especially after the 2020 Almeda and South Obenchain fires burned large swaths of the county and increased flooding risk.
Jackson County residents urged to consider flood insurance

With the return of the rainy season, Jackson County government is advising residents — especially those who live in burned areas — to consider their flood risk and whether they need flood insurance.

The 2020 Almeda fire tore along the Bear Creek corridor from Ashland to the southern outskirts of Medford, while the South Obenchain fire burned land laced with tributaries of Butte Creek and the Rogue River in northern Jackson County.

Charred landscapes can contribute to erosion and flood risk. Even small streams are prone to destructive flooding and can be dangerous. Moving water that is 6 inches deep can sweep people off their feet, and water 2 feet deep can float cars, according to Jackson County officials.

Flood damage can cost thousands of dollars to repair, but flood insurance can help cover costs. Residents who don’t have flood insurance should talk to their insurance agent. Since there’s a 30-day waiting period before National Flood Insurance Program coverage takes effect, residents should give themselves plenty of time to buy insurance, according to Jackson County officials.

For information about floodplain maps, waterways and flood history, flood insurance, preparing for a flood and more, visit jacksoncountyor.org/ds/Planning/Floodplain-Management.

Jackson County Floodplain Manager Tracie Nickel is available for appointments or site visits to discuss flood hazards, drainage issues, methods of flood protection, retrofitting and other topics. Reach her by calling the Jackson County Planning Division at 541-774-6907.

The Planning Division can also provide information about regulations that protect riparian corridors along waterways. Before disturbing any area near waterways with grading, excavating or other activity, consult with the Planning Division.

To check real-time water levels and stay informed about water level changes, visit water.weather.gov/ahps/index.php.