Expenses of flood prevention may pay dividends

“I woke up…and muddy water was pouring in the front door,” CHS science teacher Mike Guardino recalls of the January 1995 flood in his Mission Fields neighborhood. “It ended up being about 18 inches deep.”

Guardino reports that he did not have flood insurance at the time, so he and his wife were forced to move out of the house for nearly 50 days. After several weeks of repair, they finally moved back into their home, which was again destroyed in a more severe flood in March of that year.

As the teacher remarks, the sudden disasters caused residents who had not previously owned flood insurance to purchase it, as required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. And, as law mandates, any residents living on floodplains must pay flood insurance if there exists a mortgage on their homes.

Clearly, Guardino was not the only person to experience the trauma of flooding in 1995. Carmel Valley resident Bruce Crane also witnessed firsthand the danger of flooding.

“[Thirty inches] of water rushed through my house,” Crane says. “The river dug up our street that year and put a 15-foot hole in our driveway.”

Crane explains that the flood insurance did not cover the entirety of the damage and that he was forced to secure a FEMA loan which took 10 years to pay off.

Tularcitos Elementary School principal and Mission Fields resident Ryan Peterson suggests that though flood insurance fees can be daunting, the insurance is worth the security it provides.

“While flood insurance is expensive…living in a flood area [that] requires the insurance was a choice I made, so I am okay with paying for it,” Peterson says. “There is…comfort in knowing that in years like this the flood insurance is there.”

Many local residents are taking several additional measures. Guardino, for instance, has stockpiled extra water and batteries.

Mission Fields resident and CHS English teacher Barbara Steinberg has installed a new rain gutter system and better drainage system, in addition to collecting sandbags to stack against the garage. Steinberg states that Mission Fields even has its own fill-up station to facilitate distribution of sandbags. Another sandbag fill-up location lies near the Mid-Valley Fire Station.

“Everyone on my cul de sac has sandbags,” Steinberg says. “Everyone seems to be not at a high level of concern, but some level of preparation.”

Mid-Valley resident Murray Vout has also taken plenty of precautions to reduce the risk of flooding, though it is quite less likely to occur in this slightly elevated area.

Vout recalls, however, an instance in 1995 in which runoff from Tierra Grande caused flash floods which extended beyond Carmel Valley Road to Dorris Drive. With the work that has been done throughout Carmel Valley to prevent flooding, Vout is doubtful of the chances of flooding, as are others. Nonetheless, he has installed Quick Dams designed to absorb water and blockade door thresholds.

Other residents take less precaution when dealing with potential flooding. CHS computer teacher Tom Clifford, a Mission Fields resident since 1998, has not yet experienced a flood, which he credits to the changes made to the levies after the 1995 floods.

Though he feels that flood insurance is a good thing, Clifford does little else to reduce the threat of floods.

“The pictures are on the top shelf,” Clifford jokes.

Evidently, though insurance rates may be costly and the probability of flooding may be low, it seems that most residents would rather play it safe than sorry.

-Melissa Pavloff