5 Ways to Protect Your Home From Mudslides

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Over the weekend many residents in La Canada Flintridge, Calif., missed the Superbowl because they were helping neighbors clear out property and dig for belongings after damage caused by mudslides. Los Angeles County Fire Battalion Chief Mike Brown said the weekend's devastation was the worst he had seen in his 20 years of service.

A few weeks ago the rains caused mudslides and damage, and this past weekend it happened again. With storms expected tomorrow and into the future, how can you protect your property from mudslides?
Due to the land and climate, Los Angeles is an area that's frequently hit with mudslides. In the past few days 500 people were evacuated from their homes with 43 homes damaged by mudslides, nine beyond repair. Following rains in 2005 the Hollywood Reservoir was closed to citizens and only partly reopened in 2009.

In October the U.S. Geological Survey said that Pacoima Canyon, Big Tujunga Canyon and Arroyo Seco had an 80 percent chance of being hit, with La Canada Flintridge potentially seeing damage.

Mudslides can cause a lot of damage to property but there are things homeowners can do to protect themselves.

1) The first thing you'd probably want to do is get an insurance policy to cover mudslides, but stand-alone mudslide policies are rare. And areas frequently hit with mudslides homeowners are often turned down for coverage. Many who already have fire and earthquake insurance add flood on top of those policies - hoping something will cover the damage. However, the truth is most water-damage issues like mudslides get fought in court since there is no clear policy and governance on this issue. With no clear policy homeowners can be left to fight for water damage claims in their time of need.

According to FEMA you might be able to be covered from debris flow from flood insurance policies from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

You can contact consumer groups like United Policyholders for help with policy information before and after damage occurs.

2) Landslides happen where they have occurred before so be aware of your area's history. FEMA suggests getting a geological survey of your property. Once you know your property, you can make structural changes like building retaining walls or deflection walls to direct the flow around buildings. (But remember, if you have the flow go around your property you could be liable to damage that's caused to your neighbors property.)

3) Install flexible pipe fittings to avoid gas and water leaks.

4) Have an evacuation plan/home mudslide plan. Knowing what to do ahead of time will not only allow you to get to safety, but will also allow you to return to your home as soon as you can to mitigate the damage.

5) Contact local fire and police if you expect a mudslide could occur. Getting help from local and state agencies immediately can potentially protect your home from damage.
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