Flood Safety

Consider Buying Separate Flood Insurance

The year 2016 saw more floods in the US than any year on record. In total, there were 19 major floods, the most devastating of which happened in Louisiana in late August. In total, almost 7 trillion gallons of rain fell on the state of Louisiana. 60,000 homes were damaged and within several days after the flooding, costs were estimated at 30 million dollars.
Floods can be devastating to a home or business which is why it’s important to be able determine the flood risk for your business or home and know what to do and how to safely evacuate, if flood waters start rising.

Before a Flood

Know when to expect flooding. Different areas of the U.S. are likely to flood at different times. Prepare for a flood based on your location and season.
  • Coastal areas are likely to flood between the months of June and November due to hurricane activity.
  • Midwestern areas are likely to flood in the spring and summer due to heavy rains.
  • Northeastern and Northwestern areas are likely to experience flooding in the spring due to ice jams on streams and rivers.
  • Southwestern areas are likely to experience flooding in late summer months due to monsoons.
Your flood risk also depends on geographic and manmade structures near your home or business. Nearby sewer systems, water ways, levees, dams, and bodies of water all increase the risk of flooding in your area. You can learn more about the flood risk for your home or business at fema.gov.
Know the terms. In order to respond correctly, it’s important to know the terminology used for different flood threats.
  • Flood Watch. This means flooding is possible in your area. Be prepared to move to higher ground or evacuate.
  • Flood Warning. This means a flood is happening, or about to happen, in your area. Evacuate immediately if instructed to do so.
There are Flood Watch and Flood Warning notifications for every kind of flood. They can be used for flash floods, coastal floods, river floods, etc.
Prepare your home or business. If your home or business is in a high risk flood area, consider making certain modifications to its design. These modifications include:
  • Installing “check valves” to help prevent sewer lines from flooding the drains in your house or business.
  • Installing sump pumps that have battery backup.
  • Elevating valuable installations such as furnaces, electric panels, circuit breakers and water heaters.
  • Waterproofing your basement.
If your home or business is in an area that is very high risk for flooding, consider elevating the entire structure.
Know your evacuation route. Most floods require that you evacuate your home or business. Contact your fire department or town hall to learn the evacuation route for your area. Make sure that your friends and family know the plan as well. Make sure that friends and family who are unable to evacuate are accounted for in your evacuation plan. Also, fill your car with gas and pack your emergency kit when you receive notification of a flood watch.

During a Flood

Secure your home during a slow flood. In the event of a slow flood, you may have time to prepare your home and help mitigate damage before you evacuate. Place valuable items that you cannot evacuate on higher levels of your home or business. If you know how, turn off gas, water and electricity to your home or business. If you have time, consider placing sandbags around your home.
Follow these tips for placing sandbags near your home or business:
  • Fill sandbags halfway full and stagger them on top of each other like bricks.
  • Don’t expect sandbags to hold off flood water that is higher than two feet.
  • Don’t leave sandbags out for several weeks as they can deteriorate.
  • Always place a plastic liner under sandbags and against the structure you want to protect.
  • Always place sandbags directly against the property you want to protect. Never leave a space between the bags and property as this will trap water and can increase flood damage.
  • Fold the top of the sandbag and place it so the flap is underneath it. Always place the covered opening towards the direction water will be flowing. This will help prevent the bag from opening.
Don’t travel near floodwater. Always try to find another route. Roads can be washed away under floodwater. 6 inches of moving floodwater is enough to knock a person over. A foot of moving floodwater can set a large SUV adrift.
Signal for help. If you’re unable to evacuate in time, and the flood water is surrounding your area, call 911 immediately. Give them your location and relay any information about your situation. If you’re in a house or building, climb to the top floor. Do not go onto the roof unless it is necessary. Avoid going into attics because you could become trapped if there is no egress.
If your car is surrounded by flood waters, do not get out unless the cabin is flooding. Even if the flood water is moving your vehicle, stay inside. If the flowing water is strong enough to move your car, there is little chance you’ll be able to navigate it better on foot.

After a Flood

Stay safe. If you are evacuated, do not return to the flood area until officials declare it’s safe. When you do return, follow these safety tips:
  • Don’t wade in floodwater. It may contain oil, raw sewage, wild animals, downed electrical lines or dangerous debris.
  • Do not drive your vehicle through flooded areas.
  • If your gas was turned off, do not turn it back on. Only a licensed professional should do that.
Assess damage. Photograph the damage that your house, property, or business has sustained. Contact your insurance company immediately to report the damage.
Floods can quickly cover business and personal property and even towns with very little warning. Although there’s no guaranteed way to deflect catastrophic floodwaters from your house or business, there are ways to mitigate the damage. Following the information outlined in this article may help you better protect your loved ones, home, or business from a flood.