Floods happen in all kinds of locations from rural areas to city streets and under all kinds of conditions. They’re caused by excessive rainfall, levee failure, ice jams or high tides, and the damage they cause can be sudden and devastating. You can however take action and limit your losses.
Just a reminder: Your homeowner policy does not cover damage due to flooding. Talk with your agent about the Federal Government’s National Flood Insurance Program, or other options.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
- Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (FEMA)
- Ready.Gov (U.S. Department of Homeland Security)
- American Red Cross Disaster Services
- Preventative maintenance
If you live in a low lying area or a flood prone location, you should always take the appropriate precautions to protect yourself and your family. Start by speaking with your local building authority to determine what the base flood elevation is in your area. Here are some other suggestions to help you minimize potential damage:
- Check your property’s building records to determine the elevation of your property’s lowest floor.
- Establish what flood zone your home or property is in. For example, Zone A is near a river, lake or stream and may be subject to rising water. Zone V is beach front areas susceptible to both rising water and wind driven waves.
- If your property is in a high risk zone (A) and your lowest floor is below the base flood elevation, the most effective way to prevent flood damage is to elevate your entire house so that the lowest floor is above the base flood elevation. Some other steps you can take to reduce flood damage in Zone A include:
- Using water resistant building materials in areas below the base flood elevation
- Installing backflow valves or standpipes to prevent sewer lines from backing up into your house
- Using concrete blocks to raise your washer, dryer, water heater, oil tanks, furnace and electrical wiring. If you can’t elevate, consider protecting items with a floodwall.
- Installing flood shields for basement windows and doors
- Installing a sump pump system
And of course, don’t finish any rooms or basements that are below flood elevation!
Zone V area property can be threatened by both rising water and waves, so the first consideration should be relocation of the house. If that is not an option, consider elevating the structure onto pilings or a pier. If you choose this route, always have your plans reviewed by an architect or an engineer to ensure they meet building codes, especially your local community’s floodplain management building ordinance for new construction and improved structures.
Remember taking building precautions to safe guard your home does not make it flood proof nor ensure your safety.
- When a flood is imminent
Call or visit your town hall, community center or other local government office to find out about your community’s disaster preparedness plans.
Establish a family plan that includes escape routes and a preordained meeting place where family members can reunite if people become separated.
Designate an out-of-town relative as the emergency contact point for family members.
Make copies of important documents such as; will, mortgage, insurance policies, insurance cards. Place them in a waterproof container so they can be accessible and easily transported should you need to leave your home.
Create an emergency kit which includes:
- Three day supply of drinking water for each family member (one gallon per person per day)
- Extra water for cooking and washing
- Canned goods and other non perishable foods that don’t require cooking
- First aid kit
- Toiletries (toilet paper, soap, bleach (for disinfecting), diapers, etc.)
- Battery powered radio, lanterns and cooking equipment
- Extra batteries
- Flashlights and batteries
- Prescription medications
- Credit cards and cash
- If you have pets include pet food
- Important documents (insurance policies, wills, etc.)
Whenever there is a risk of a flood, monitor local weather stations to keep informed of the impending threat, and always obey evacuation rules from local authorities.