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How damage from wildfires doesn't always stop when the fire is out

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The risk of flooding after wild fires is being highlighted in a new FEMA campaign.

A new campaign by FEMA is highlighting how the risk of flooding skyrockets after wildfire, for five years or even more, until vegetation is restored.

Four years ago, 23 people died in debris flows in Montecito following the Thomas wildfire.

We don’t need to only think about protecting ourselves against the risk of the next wildfire, but from the flood risk that wildfires have brought, says Jeff Jackson, Deputy Assistant Administrator, Federal Insurance at FEMA.

"Everyone has a flood risk of some type and it's important to learn what your individual risk is, and it's not always apparent," he told KCLU.

"As climate change happens and we see more and more disaster activity it's really going to compound upon itself," Jackson added. "Now, more than ever, it's wise to look at what your risk are an be aware of what your current insurance provides and consider insuring yourself further."

Flooding after a fire is often more severe, said Jackson, as it takes very little rain to cause a flood or debris flows.

After a wildfire, the terrain is dramatically altered, causing residents in these burn scar areas to face a significant risk of flooding and debris flows.

The risk of flooding skyrockets until vegetation is restored — up to 5 or more years after a wildfire.

The 2021 wildfire season has seen more than 58,985 wildfires and burned more than 7.13 million acres across the U.S.