Preparing for Floods

Preparing for Floods


Know your flood risk.

Learn whether you live, work, or travel through areas that are prone to flooding. To help communities understand their risk of flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) creates flood maps (Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs) to show the locations of high-risk, moderate-to low risk, and undetermined risk areas. To check your flood risk, enter your address here.

According to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), more than 25 percent of all flood claims each year come from homes outside areas at high risk for flooding. Our City participates in the NFIP and has adopted floodplain management regulations that meet and exceed its minimum requirements.

Know how to stay informed.
Receiving timely information about weather conditions or other emergency events can make all the difference in knowing when to take action to be safe.
Monitor the weather reports provided by local news media. 
We have Nixle alerting systems for emergency notifications. 
Consider buying a NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) All Hazards receiver, which receives broadcast alerts directly from NWS.
You can purchase these at many retail outlets, such as electronics and big box stores, or online. Some NWR receivers are designed to work with external notification devices with visual and vibrating alerts for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

Think about how you will stay informed if there is a power outage. Have extra batteries for a battery-operated radio and your cell phone. 
You can use USGS’s WaterAlert system to receive texts or email messages when a stream in your area is rising to flood level.

Know your evacuation routes: plan your transportation and a place to stay.  The safest way to survive a flood is to evacuate the area if advised to leave.
To ensure that you will be able to act quickly should the need arise, you need to plan ahead.
If you will evacuate by car, keep your car fueled and in good condition. Keep emergency supplies and a change of clothes in your car.
If you will need to share transportation, make arrangements now. If you will need to use public transportation, contact Lake Transit to ask how an evacuation will work, how you will get current information during an evacuation, the location of staging areas, and other information.

If you need to relocate for an extended period of time, identify a place away from home now where you could go if you had to leave. Consider family or friends who live outside of the local area.
If you expect to go to a shelter after evacuating, download the American Red Cross Shelter Finder app. This app displays open American Red Cross shelters and provides the capacity and current population of each shelter. You can also text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area.
If you have pets and plan to go to a shelter, call to inquire whether the shelter can accommodate your pets. Shelters will accept service animals.

Practice how you will communicate with family members. In a dangerous situation, your first thoughts will be the safety of your family and friends. In case you are not together when authorities issue a flood watch or flood warning, practice how you will communicate with each other.
Remember that sending texts is often faster than making a phone call. Keep important numbers written down in your wallet not just in your phone. It is sometimes easier to reach people outside of your local area during an emergency, so choose an out-of-town contact for all family members to call or use social media. Decide where the members of your household will meet after the flood. Click on the link for instructions on developing a Household Communication Plan. 

Flood3Store supplies so you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate; know in advance what else you will need to take. Take time now to make a list of the things you would need or want to take with you if you had to leave your home quickly. Store the basic emergency supplies in a “Go Bag” or other container. Be ready to grab other essential items quickly before leaving. Remember to include specialized items for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs such as older adults, children, and those with Limited English Proficiency. For a full list of supplies for your emergency supply kit click here.

Store the important documents you will need to start your recovery. Review your homeowners or renters insurance policy and also prepare or update a list of your home’s contents by taking pictures or videotaping each room in the house. If your home or business sustains significant damage, you will need access to insurance and rental or mortgage agreements to file a claim or request assistance from the government. During recovery, you may also need access to personal information such as medical insurance, prescriptions, or warranties for durable medical equipment.  Store your records safely. Keep papers in a fireproof, waterproof box. If records are stored electronically, keep a backup drive in your fireproof, waterproof box or store files using a secure cloud-based service.

Protect your property and manage your risk.
Take steps to protect your property from flood damage. - Talk to your insurance agent about buying flood insurance. Flood insurance is available for homeowners, renters, and business owners. Because homeowners insurance policies do not typically cover flood losses, you will need to  purchase separate flood insurance if your property is at risk for flooding. 
Elevate the heating system (furnace), water heater, and electric panel if the location is susceptible to flooding. Install “check valves” in sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.  Waterproof the basement. Install sump pumps with battery backup.
If you live in a flood-prone area, stockpile emergency building materials  (e.g., plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber nails, a hammer and saw, a pry bar,  shovels, and sandbags).
In areas with repetitive flooding, consider elevating the building.
Keep gutters and drains free of debris.

If authorities advise or order you to evacuate, do so immediately.

Be sure to remember the Five Ps of Evacuation: People, Prescriptions, Paper, Personal Needs, and Priceless Items.

If you are in the path of a slow-onset flood and there is time before you need to evacuate, consider the following strategies.
    “Move items you want to protect to a higher floor.
   “Turn off gas, water, and electricity if you know how and can do it safely.  Do not touch electrical    equipment if it is wet or you are standing in water.
   “Put sandbags around your property.

To avoid being trapped when floodwaters threaten your area, the best action to protect yourself and your family is to evacuate before flooding starts. Know and follow the directions from local officials for community evacuation or seek high ground for localized flooding.

Flood1If you see floodwater on roads, walkways, bridges, and on the ground, do not attempt to cross. The depth of the water is not always obvious and the roadbed may be washed out under the water. Moving water has tremendous power. Six inches of moving water has the potential to knock you off your feet, and a foot of water can sweep a vehicle—even a large SUV—off of the road. Floodwaters can contain rocks, mud, other debris, oil, gasoline, and even sewage. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood dangers.
REMEMBER: Do not enter flooded areas or moving water either on foot or in a vehicle, including areas that appear to have only inches of water.
If you do not leave before the flooding reaches your immediate area and you  are trapped, call 911 if possible. Give your location and explain your situation.
IN A BUILDING - Go to the highest level of the building. Avoid basements and lower floors, but do not climb into a closed attic as you may become trapped by rising floodwater.  - Go onto your roof only if necessary. Signal for help.
IN A VEHICLE - If floodwater is blocking your evacuation route but you can turn around safely, turn around and go to a building on high ground. - If your vehicle is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
OUTDOORS - Move to higher ground and, if necessary, climb as high as possible on a sturdy object.

Listen to official public information to get expert, informed advice as soon as it becomes available.

After the rising water has stopped, use the following considerations and precautions:
If your home was severely flooded, you may only be able to enter when officials say it is safe to do so. Stay out of any building surrounded by floodwaters.

Use extreme caution when entering flooded buildings. There may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations. Personal safety considerations include protecting yourself from electric shock, mold contamination, asbestos, and lead paint.

Turn off electricity at main breaker or fuse box. Homeowners who are unfamiliar with electricity or their home’s electrical systems should contact their local power company or a qualified electrician to assist them in making their property safe from electrical hazards after a flood.
Check for loose boards and slippery floors.
Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or you are standing in water.
Shut off utilities to a flooded home or building.
Use flashlights, not lanterns, torches, or matches, to examine buildings. Flammable gases may be inside the structure and open flames may cause a fire or explosion.

If you turned off your gas, a licensed professional is required to turn it back on. Carbon monoxide exhaust kills. Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machine ONLY outdoors and away from windows so the fumes do not get inside. The same goes for camping stoves. Fumes from charcoal are also deadly—cook with charcoal ONLY outdoors.

Stay away from moving water, especially near streams and drainage systems.
Avoid wading in floodwater, which may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or  raw sewage.
Watch for dangerous debris (e.g., broken glass, metal fragments), or dead animals that may be in floodwaters.
Before walking through debris, use a stick to check for hidden dangers. Underground or downed power lines may electrically charge the water.
Do not drive in areas where floodwater covers the road.
Stay away from downed power lines and report them to 911 or the power company’s emergency number.
Stay away from damaged areas unless police, fire, or relief organizations have requested your assistance. 

Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
flood5Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage, bacteria, and chemicals. Take precautions and wear appropriate protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses, and face masks.

Follow five basic steps for post-flood building restoration, including (1) air out, (2) move out, (3) tear out,  (4) clean out, and (5) dry out. Seek out professional services and/or guidance before attempting to repair flood-damaged property.

Throw out any food, including canned items, that was not maintained at a proper temperature or has been exposed to floodwaters. Do not eat food from a flooded garden. When in doubt, throw it out.
Remove and replace any drywall or other paneling that has been underwater. Use a moisture meter to make sure that wooden studs and framing are dry before replacing the drywall. Mold growth in hidden places is a significant health hazard.

Photograph damage to your property and contact your insurance agent. Do what you can to prevent further damage that insurance may not cover (e.g., putting a tarp on a damaged roof).

For more information  FEMA. has provided a booklet to assist you in preparing for a flood.