Now that it’s July, Arizona’s monsoon season is officially here. The strong winds, heavy rains and unpredictable weather wreaks havoc on Arizonans every year, but it still takes many by surprise. Beyond that, the dry desert soil makes the Valley prone to dangerous flash flooding during monsoons. This is how some homeowners end up with damage and why all residents of the state should prepare for the storms.
While Arizona monsoons are a safety hazard, and protecting oneself and one’s family is the top priority, it’s also important to consider how to protect your home. This guide will outline the steps homeowners should take to prepare for monsoon season and stay safe and legally protected.
Connect with Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN)
The Arizona Emergency Information Network (AzEIN) recommends staying connected on social media, where they post helpful monsoon updates and informational content. The social profiles also cover other storms and fires in the state. For 2019, AzEIN created this Arizona monsoon video and webpage with the latest information about staying safe in a storm.
Monsoon Preparation Checklist
It is still early monsoon season, so there is plenty of time to complete this checklist and be fully prepared for the storms ahead.
Monsoons present many hazards, but flash floods and fire from lightning strikes are two of the most dangerous. Both can cause widespread power outages or home evacuations, so be sure to have the following:
- Disaster Supply Kit. The family disaster supply kit should have enough nonperishable food and clean water to sustain each person and pet for 72 hours. All necessary prescriptions and copies of important documents should also be in the kit, along with battery-powered light sources and extra batteries.
- Family Communication Plan. AzEIN recommends writing and rehearsing a family communication plan that includes a meeting place and out-of-town contacts.
- Information Sources. The AzEIN social network provides major updates during monsoons, and TV and radio stations broadcast real-time weather reports. Up-to-date information, especially with a background knowledge of local hazards, is advantageous for weathering a monsoon.
For the Home
The key to minimizing Arizona monsoon 2019 damage is making some tweaks to the home ahead of time. Taking preventative measures can save homeowners thousands of dollars in repair costs, especially for those who don’t have flood insurance. Follow these steps for increased protection:
- Clean the gutters. Gutters are intended to direct rainwater away from the home, but a buildup of debris can lead to overflow and saturation of the home’s foundation. This makes the structure less stable and can lead to collapse over time. Homeowners should clean out their gutters at least yearly or install gutter covers to prevent debris collection.
- Realign downspouts. When placed correctly, downspouts direct rainwater from gutters to a location away from the house. Realignment ensures rainwater will flow into the side yard, for example, instead of into the house’s foundation.
- Assess and enhance the yard layout. This step is twofold as it addresses the yard grading and the layout. Specifically, the most effective way to keep rainwater out of the home is to have a yard that slopes downward and a pool or garden, if applicable, that is away from the foundation. Many homeowners cannot help their yard layouts, but they can install a retaining wall to keep water out.
- Seal the entryways and floors. Arizona homeowners are advised to weatherproof the entryways of their homes with weather strips on the inside and additional protection on the outside. They can also seal the floors for an extra water-resistant layer.
- Unplug electronics. Lightning can affect the function of wired electronic devices, so it is recommended to take extra precaution with expensive electronics and unplug them. There are also reported instances of people being shocked by their devices, so stop plugged in cell phone usage until the storm has passed.
Legally Protecting Your Home From Flood Damage
Monsoon season is a good time to check your homeowner’s insurance to ensure it will cover any potential damage—or to add flood insurance to your policy. Typically, homeowner’s insurance will not cover flood damage from groundwater, but your insurance agent or provider can provide clear details about your coverage and help you determine where you might need extra protection.
Another consideration is the legality of diverting water flow. If you are concerned about drainage issues on your property, it is essential to understand any floodplain and stormwater laws in your city and county. A real estate attorney can help homeowners decipher these laws and devise a plan of action. For example, ARS 48-3613 states that “a person shall not engage in any development which will divert, retard or obstruct the flow of water in any watercourse without securing written authorization from the board of the district in which the watercourse is located.
For any unexpected damages, there is funding offered to qualified homeowners. Per the Arizona Registrar of Contractors, “Under certain conditions, a homeowner may also be eligible to apply to the Registrar’s Residential Contractors’ Recovery Fund and, depending on the cost of damages, receive up to $30,000 to have the work corrected or completed.”
Find an Experienced Real Estate Attorney in Arizona
Our firm understands that homeowners want to do whatever is necessary to protect their home and family. It is important to make sure those changes do not put you at risk for a lawsuit from your neighbor for altering the natural flow of groundwater. Monsoon storms arrive without warning during the summer months in Arizona, so you want to be prepared.
MacQueen & Gottlieb can help you determine if your property improvements or alterations are certified. Our attorneys can also represent you if damage to your property was caused by uncertified alterations to a neighboring property. Contact us today at 602-562-7218 to schedule an initial consultation or make an appointment online.