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Officials Warn Californians To Buy Flood Insurance

San Joaquin Co. Office of Emergency Services (OES) / Submitted

From the 1997 and 1998 flooding in San Joaquin Co.

San Joaquin Co. Office of Emergency Services (OES) / Submitted

Federal and California officials are warning that a combination of El Niño rains and damage from wildfires will cause flooding this winter.

The last strong El Niño started in 1997 and brought the West more than double its average rainfall, as well as widespread flooding and mudslides. California insurance commissioner Dave Jones says there’s a complication this year.

"Add to that the damage caused by the fires," says Jones,"which dramatically reduced vegetation and the holding capacity of soil in certain parts of California, and you have a really high risk of flooding."

The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports more than 20 percent of all claims it receives occur outside high-risk flood areas.

Jones says the average policy costs about $700, depending on property value. Homeowner’s insurance generally does not cover flooding. Rather, the federal government offers coverage through the National Flood Insurance Program.