More Evacuations Ordered in Burn Areas as Record Rain Soaks Southern California

(TNS) - A storm over Southern California dumped rain and snow on the area Monday, heightening the threat of mud and debris flows in areas scarred by recent wildfires, prompting evacuation orders, and closing a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu and the Grapevine section of the 5 Freeway.

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for western Los Angeles County and Ventura County, warning that roads, streams and highways could pool with rain as showers are expected through the week.

As rain pelted the state Monday, setting new rainfall records in Burbank and Sandberg, a town near the Grapevine, officials began to close roads that were too dangerous for traffic.

Updating California’s Fire Risk Maps Will Take Time, New Tech

(TNS) — State firefighters are taking on the colossal task this year of updating maps that highlight the most fire-prone areas in California.

Fire officials in Marin say the maps, last updated more than a decade ago, are a helpful planning resource. But in California’s current climate, some say, those projections aren’t as relevant as they once were — the whole state is susceptible to flames.

Reducing risk in environmental liability policies

A growing trend in the insurance industry is that companies hesitant to insure a property that is vulnerable to environmental issues have started to offer incentives to policyholders who take steps ahead of time to address the risks, based on where the property is located. This attention to environmental sustainability and resilience saves both policyholders and insurance companies significant money in the long term and should become a best practice in the industry.

Santa Barbara County, Calif., Knew Mudslides Were a Risk. It Did Little to Stop Them

(TNS) — During severe winter storms, Cold Springs Creek above Montecito turns into a torrent of mud, uprooted trees and shed-size boulders as it drains three square miles of sheer mountain front.

The only thing protecting the people, homes and businesses below is a low dam that the Army Corps of Engineers built in 1964 at the mouth of the creek's canyon, forming a basin between the steep banks to catch the crashing debris.

Over the decades, the basin filled up with sediment and grew thick with brush and trees.

Year in Risk 2018

As every risk ­manager knows, the world is as fraught with risk as ever. This becomes even more apparent as natural disasters, cyberattacks, corporate malfeasance and political and economic uncertainty make headlines and create new business concerns. The following review of some of the notable risk events of 2018 can both remind us where we have been and provide insight into the challenges and opportunities we could face in the years to come.

Research Finds Fire-Resistant Building Codes Do Not Raise Home Prices

Homes in wildfire-prone areas around the U.S. could be built to better withstand blazes without increasing the cost of construction, according to a new report.

The research released Tuesday was sponsored in part by the insurance industry and marks the first attempt to quantify the expenses associated with building residences that meet stringent flame-resistant criteria. Few states have adopted such codes, often citing housing costs, but the new findings suggest fire-plagued communities could curb damage and save lives with minimal effect on home buyers.

Wildfire Camera System Provides a Small Measure of Good News in California

As California grapples with increasingly deadly wildfires with seemingly few real solutions, one small but effective way of saving communities is getting more attention and traction: deploying a network of infrared cameras on mountaintops and other high hazard areas.

The AlertWildfire network, consisting of some 80 cameras already dispersed among California forests, has already proven its worth on several occasions. As recently as last week in San Diego County, cameras caught two fire start-ups and allowed fire personnel to put them down with the appropriate amount of manpower.

Solutions to Wildfires in Time of Climate Change Are Costly, Unpopular

California’s deadly wildfires have a straightforward solution, experts say: stop building homes in places that are likely to burn — and make homes that already exist in those areas a whole lot tougher.

That approach, wildfire and climate policy experts are quick to add, would be expensive and unpopular, especially in a state with both a housing shortage and stunning wooded landscapes that people want to live in. But as climate change causes more frequent and shocking blazes, they say anything less won’t make enough of a difference.

Q&A: California Businesses Prepare for the Next Quake

On October 18, more than 10 million Californians participated in The Great Shakeout to prepare for the next catastrophic earthquake and bring awareness to earthquake preparedness across the state. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) predicts a 99% chance of a magnitude 6.7+ earthquake in the Bay Area within the next 30 years, preparation is essential.

Kate Stillwell is a structural engineer and founder and CEO of Jumpstart, a new earthquake insurance provider which helps families and individuals following a disaster via text. As a business owner and lifelong Californian, Stillwell took part in the Shakeout and shared her experience and insight for earthquake preparedness.

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