Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters in the United States. Conditions that cause floods include intense rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. During periods of intense rain streams, creek beds and drains can overflow and cause floods.
The National Weather Service defines the various types of floods as:
- Flash Flood Warning: Take Action. A Flash Flood Warning is issued when a flash flood is imminent or occurring. If you are in a flood prone area you should immediately move to higher ground.
- Flood Warning: Take Action. A Flood Warning is issued when the hazardous weather event is imminent or already occurring.
- Flood Watch: Be Prepared. This is when conditions are favorable for a specific hazardous weather event to occur. A Flood Watch does not mean flooding will occur, but it is possible.
- Flood Advisory: Be Aware. A Flood advisory is issued when a specific weather event that is forecast to occur may become a nuisance. This is issued when flooding is not expected to be bad enough to issue a warning. Caution should be exercised.
It is important to be prepared for a flood especially when you live in a flood prone area. The following are some things you can do to be prepared:
- If you live in a flood-prone area, you may want to consider making permanent changes to your home such as constructing retaining walls and raising your furnace and electrical panel above potential flood levels.
- Put together an emergency supply kit.
- Many homeowner’s policies do not cover flood damage so you may want to consider getting flood insurance.
- During potential flooding you may be asked to evacuate. You should make a list in advance of items you would take with you in the event of an evacuation including keys, photos, and copy of insurance policy, credit cards, money, phone charger, prescription and pet supplies.
- Clear debris from roof gutters, downspouts and drains so water can flow and drain properly.
- Have sandbags ready along with other materials including tarps and plywood.
- Check your roof for possible leaks.
- Have an evacuation plan and discuss with your family.
When heavy rain is forecasted you should prepare your home for possible flooding. In the event that flooding occurs you should have a hand held radio to hear news alerts. If you are home it is best to stay at home if it is not being affected by debris, mud or floodwaters. If you must evacuate go to higher ground or to a designated evacuation center. If for any reason you cannot evacuate your home immediately go to the second floor or higher ground.
To prepare for possible flooding be sure to do the following:
- Fill your gas tank.
- Fill and place your sandbags. Do not stack sandbags against outside walls of your house. Instead stack them away from walls to prevent flood waters from reaching your house.
- Monitor gutters and drains that could cause flooding. Clear any debris from gutters.
- Make sure radios and batteries have batteries and are easily accessible.
- Move furniture and valuables to upper floors.
- Tie down or move patio furniture into home.
- If you are advised to evacuate make sure your home is by locking doors and windows.
After a flood, if evacuated, do not return to the area until authorities have reopened the area to residents. If you were not asked to evacuate be aware that recently flooded areas may be very hazardous and caution should be used.
The following are some things you should do after a flood:
- Use battery operated flashlights or lanterns to inspect your property.
- If you have flood insurance and your home has been damaged notify your insurance company.
- Take pictures of damage to give to your insurance company.
- Do not eat food that has come in contact with flood water.
- Verify with authorities that drinking water is safe.
- Remove wet contents immediately. Clean and disinfect items that got wet and safely discard anything that absorbed flood waters.
- Look for hazards such as broken gas lines and electrical circuits that have been flooded.
Taking all precautions before, during and after a flood will keep you and your family safe. If your home is inhabitable contact your insurance company or Temporary Housing Directory at 800-817-3220 to arrange for temporary housing until you are able to safely return to your home.