The Region : Flood Risk High, FEMA Says

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is urging homeowners below the slopes charred by last month's Altadena fire to buy flood insurance if they don't have it.

The coverage, which can be purchased at any time from a California agent licensed to write property insurance, is backed by the National Flood Insurance Program and administered by the Federal Insurance Administration.

Most property insurance policies for homes and businesses do not provide coverage for flood-related damage, so flood insurance must be bought separately, according to FEMA officials. An estimated 75% of structures in flood hazard areas in California do not have flood insurance.

Residents living below the burned mountainside are at particular risk of flooding this year because the hills have been stripped of vegetation.

Also, some meteorologists warn that the El Nino weather phenomenon appears to be returning for the second consecutive year. Last winter's drenching storms destroyed homes and buried highways in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

There is a five-day waiting period once an application for flood insurance is submitted. The coverage protects policyholders from damage caused by "floods" and "mudflows," but not "landslides," according to FEMA officials.

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