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Chapter 5: Assessing Damage to the Rest of Your Property

It is important to document and photograph the damage inside your home, but you also need to do the same level of documentation outside your home. Even if you don’t have a lot of land, this is an important step because wildfires can ruin landscaping, and it can be costly to replace.

The following information discusses the wildfire recovery process of farmland, soil and trees on your property.

Farmland

If you have farmland, the documentation process is very important. You should take extensive pictures of crop damage and record how many acres and crops were damaged in the fire. You also need to consider the damage of heat and smoke to crops that appear unburned.

Although FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, does not offer specific assistance for farmers after a major disaster has been declared, your farm and property could be eligible for services provided by the Farm Service Agency (FSA), the Small Business Administration (SBA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Extension Service.

Mapping

Mapping is a process of recording the intensity of a fire and its burn path with regard to your property. Walk through your property and note the damage done to each area. Pay attention to the areas that were the most and least damaged on your map. This walk-through will show you any hot spots of the fire and the intensity of the burn.

In addition to noting areas damaged because of the fire, record any damage done due to heat and remediation efforts. For example, you may note that trees on your property two acres away from the fire show heat damage.

Use this map for planning regrowth after a forest fire, preventing soil erosion and planning replanting efforts as necessary.

Soil Erosion

Soil erosion is an issue after a wildfire no matter how much land you may have. Soil erosion can cause future damage to your home and property. The soil is important to trees and plants on your land, and when it erodes, those trees and plants are at risk.

Soil erosion occurs after a wildfire because the fire destroys trees that are essential to protecting the soil from rainfall. The trees and litter layer no longer intercept the rain, so the rain hits the soil and causes it to run off and erode at a faster pace.

To reduce soil erosion, you should cover any exposed soil with mulch or fast-sprouting grass seed. Areas that have steep slopes should be prioritized because the risk of runoff is greater due to the natural slope. Mulch will help absorb the rain, while grass will take root and help keep the soil in place.


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