County sends letter to homeowners with multiple flood claims

Published: Nov. 21, 2019 at 7:33 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - There are several areas in Pima County that are flood prone, some more than others.

That’s why the county sent 75 letters to homeowners on the east side advising them that they live in what is known as a repetitive loss area. That means those areas have had multiple flood damage claims over the past decade.

“I guess I’m taking my chances,” said Bryan Ostrum, who bought his house along the fifteenth fairway of the 49er’s County Club eight years ago. “I knew it was in the flood plain.”

He pays $700 a year in flood insurance which has gone down even though his neighbors have been flooded.

However, he hasn’t had any water in his house and doesn’t expect to.

“I sit up about two feet higher than they do,” he said. “Personally, I feel confident it’s not going to come up high enough to cause any damage to my house."

But he still wonders why his house is included in the repetitive loss map when it hasn’t flooded.

“If a house sits up fine and not be considered a repetitive risk, they why should it be included in the big overall map,” he said.

County official said it’s because it’s required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the national organization that oversees disaster plans, because it sits in the flood plain.

“There are 11,000 structures that are in the FEMA floodplain,” said Eric Shepp, the floodplain administrator for Pima County Flood Control.

Many of those homes in the 49er’s Country Club, Sabino Creek and others living near the Tanque Verde Creek, would probably not pass scrutiny by today’s standards.

“If folks proposed houses there now, they wouldn’t have been able to build,” Shepp said. “We didn’t have the information then that we have now and out information is getting better and better.”

Shepp said the letters are actually a benefit to the homeowners as part of a program, which keeps their flood insurance premiums lower.

The letters are not meant to scare the homeowners, Shepp said. Instead, they are meant to provide information as to how residents might make their homes more flood proof. That’s all FEMA and county officials are asking.

“Like the letter says, come to to us to see how you might protect your structures better,” Shepp said.

Copyright 2019 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.