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FEMA regional administrator speaks on flood risk after a wildfire

Wildfire on mountain landscape
Scott Liebenson

Nancy Dragani from the Federal Emergency Management Agency spoke with UPR reporter Caitlin Keith about the risk of flooding that comes along with the high number of wildfires in Utah and the region.

Utah residents are no strangers to the threat of wildfires, with an average of 1200 wildfires every year.

Nancy Dragani, Regional Administrator for FEMA region eight which includes Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North and South Dakota, explained why the risk of flooding is so high after a wildfire and why it is important for people to protect themselves.

“After a wildfire, the terrain is significantly altered. There's no vegetation to help absorb liquid, so it takes very, very little rain to cause flash flooding and mudflows to homes, businesses, and other structures that are in the burn scars. In addition, the actual ground becomes very, very hard, almost like concrete," Dragani said.

It is these conditions that make it easy for a flash flood to occur even with a small amount of rain.

Dragani said that flash floods are very difficult to predict because it takes a confluence of events coming together for one to occur. Because of this unpredictability, she said the best way to protect from flooding is flood insurance.

“Sometimes it's easy for those of us in the interior part of the United States to not necessarily understand the flood risk that we face," Dragani said. "But about 40% of National Flood Insurance claims actually come from areas outside flood hazard areas.”

Dragani said it takes just one inch of water to cause roughly 25% of damage to a home.

“I would just encourage people to take the time right now, to explore options to protect their property," Dragani said. "It takes about 30 days for a flood insurance policy to go into effect.”

For more information on the risk of flooding and how to protect one’s property visit or

Caitlin Keith is a general news reporter at UPR. She is from Lindon, Utah and is currently an undergrad student studying print journalism at USU. Caitlin loves to write and tell people’s stories. She is also a writer at the Utah Statesman. She loves to read, ski, play the cello and watch various TV shows.