Compiled by Dick Oakes
- Consider flood insurance.
- Flood losses are not covered under normal homeowners' insurance policies, but flood insurance is available in participating communities through the federally sponsored National Flood Insurance Program.
- Contact your local licensed insurance broker or agent for more information.
- Generally there is a five-day waiting period for coverage to take effect, so don't wait until the last minute.
- Find out how many feet your property is above or below possible flood levels so when predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
Before a Flood
- First and foremost, do not build in a floodprone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
- Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
- Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if your home is susceptible to flooding.
- Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
- Keep alert for signs of heavy rain and watch for rising water levels.
- Know the elevation of your property in relation to flood plains, streams, and other waterways.
- Determine if your property may be flooded.
- Plan what to do and where to go in case of a flood.
- Become familiar with the routes likely to be used in case of a flood.
- Store food, water, and critical medical supplies. Water service may be interrupted.
- Fill your car with gas in case you have to evacuate. If electric power is cut off, filling stations may not be able to operate pumps for several days.
- If flooding is likely and time permits, move essential items and furniture to the upper floors of your house.
- Have a portable radio with extra batteries.
- Have a flashlight and extra batteries.
- Open basement windows to equalize water pressure on foundations and walls.
- Disconnect any electrical appliances that can't be moved, but don't touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
- Secure your home -- bring outside possessions inside the house, or tie them down down securely -- and lock house doors and windows.
- Park your car in the garage (or driveway), close the windows, and lock it (unless you are driving to your new temporary location).
- Cpontact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, berms, floodwalls) to stop floodwatr from entering homes in your area.
- Keep materials such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency waterproofing. But if flooding is imminent, do not stack sandbags around the outside walls of your house to keep flood waters out of your basement. Water seeping downward through the earth (either beyond the sandbags or over them) may collect around the basement walls and under the floor, creating pressure that could damage the walls or raise the etire basement and cause it to "float" out of the ground. In most cases, it is better to permit the flood waters to flow freely into the basement (or flood the basement yourself with clean water, if you feel sure it will be flooded anyway). This will equalize the water pressure on the outside of the basement walls and floors, and thus avoid structural damaga to the foundation and the house.
- Listen to local radio or television for weather information.
- If asked to evacuate, shut off main power switch, main gas valve, and water valve. Follow local evacuation evacuation plan and routes promptly.
- If you are instructed to move to a certain location, go there -- don't go anywhere else.
- If certain travel routes are specified or recommended, use those routes rather than trying to find short cuts of your own.
- Do not attempt to cross a stream on foot where water is above your knees or above the middle of your car's wheels, all the way across.
- Drive slowly in water, use low gear, and drive very slowly to avoid splashing water into your engine and causing it to stop.
- Your brakes may not work well afe the wheels have been in deep water -- try them out a few times when you reach the other side.
- Abandon your vehicle immediately if it stalls; seek higher ground.
- It only takes two feet of running water to move a vehicle.
- Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road -- it may be washed out.
- Watch for possible flooding or bridges, dips, and low areas.
- Watch out for damaged roads, slides, and fallen wires.
- Watch for washed out or undermined roadways, earth slides, broken sewer or water mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
- Register at your designated evacuation center and remain there until informed you may leave.
During the Flood
- Know where high ground is and get there quickly before water rises.
- Be especially cautious at night as it is harder to recognize the danger then.
After the Flood
Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with flood waters.
- Remain away from the evacuated area until public health officials and building inspectors have given approval for your return.
- Check for structural damage before entering.
- Make sure electricity is off and watch for electrical wires.
- Do not use open flame as a light source because of the possibility of escaping gas. Use battery-powered lanterns or flashlights. Beware of dangerous sparks.
- Test drinking water for suitability with test kits. Wells should be pumped out and the water tested before drinking.
- Do not visit the disaster area -- your presence will probably hamper rescue and other emergency operations.
- Do not handle live electrical equipment in wet areas -- electrical equipment should be checked and dried before returning it to service.
- Avoid walking in flood water.
- Do not let children play in flood water.
- Report broken utility lines to police, fire, or other appropriate authorities.
- Keep tuned to your radio or television station for advice and instructions.
- Notify your insurance agent or broker if your property was damaged by the flood.
Flash Flood Advice
In many areas, unusually heavy rains may cause quick or "flash" floods. Small creeks, gullies, dry streambeds, ravines, culverts, or even low-lying ground frequently flood quickly and endanger people, sometimes before any warning can be given.
The National Weather Service offices issues two types of flash flood advisories: a flash flood watch and a flash flood warning. A flash flood watch means that heavy rains occuring or expected to occur may soon cause flash flooding in certian aareas, and citizens should be alert to the possibility of a flood emergency that will require immediate action. A flash flood warning means that flash flooding is ocurring or imminent on certain streams or designated areas, and immediate action should be taken by those threatened.
In a period of heavy rains, be aware of the hazard of flash floods and be prepared to protect yourself against it. If you see any possibility of a flash flood ocurring where you are, move immediately to a safer location (don't wait for instructions to move), and then notify your local authorities of the danger, so other people can be warned.
Especially during periods of heavy rainfall:
- STAY AWAY FROM NATURAL STREAMBEDS, arroyos, and other drainage channels during and after rainstorms. Water runs off the higher elevations very rapidly, causing the natural drainage system to overflow with rushing floodwaters and their deadly cargo of rocks, mud, smashed trees, and other debris.
- USE YOUR MAPS. Know where you are, and whether you are on locally low ground. Remember, you don't have to be at the bottom of a hill to be a target.
- KNOW WHERE THE HIGH GROUND IS and how to get there in a hurry. Remember, many roads and trails parallel existing drainage patterns, and may be swept away by flood waters.
- STAY OUT OF FLOODED AREAS as the water may still be rising, and the current is usually swift. Never try to cross a flowing stream on foot if the water is above your knees.
- ABANDON STALLED VEHICLES IN FLOODED AREAS if you can do so safely. Flood waters may rise and sweep the vehicle (and its occupants) away. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.