Floods are one of most common natural disasters in the United States. Unfortunately, there is no set “flood season” as this varies from state-to-state and at different times of the year. However, a flood could occur anywhere, no matter how dry the ground is or how high up a property is located. If an area can receive rain, it has the potential to flood. When a building is vulnerable to flood damage, there are steps property owners can take to prepare for the worst.
Ask Yourself the Important Questions:
Knowing the geography of where your property is located is one of the most important things about preparing for a flood. Is the property near any body of water? What is the elevation of your property? Does your property’s insurance cover flood damage? What is the history of floods in your area? Is there a disaster plan in place should there be a flood?
Preparing Your Property for a Flood:
If possible, do not build in a flood plain unless there are plans to elevate the building and construct proper reinforcements. In low-lying areas, it is recommended that one elevates the furnace, water heater, and electrical panel to avoid the risk of water damage and electrocution should there be a flood. Seal the basement or underground levels of a building with waterproofing material to avoid any seepage and unnecessary water damage.
If you are able, clear the gutters of your property and downspouts of any debris. Look into installing “check valves” in near-by sewer traps to prevent water from entering your building that has backed-up in the sewer. Sump pumps may also be a valuable investment when paired with a back-up power source. Check the pumps on a regular basis to ensure they are in proper working condition.
If a flood warning has been issued for your area, move furniture and valuables to a higher location in the property. Ensure the gas tanks of all necessary vehicles are full in case there is an evacuation.
Anchor any fuel tanks so they do not flow with any flood currents and cause further damage to your property or the property of others. An unanchored fuel tank could also break—along with the supply line—and contaminate the waters.
Have a Plan
All businesses and homes should have a flood disaster plan. This plan should include important phone numbers: your insurance agent and claims office, important business contact numbers, the contact information of family members, and the phone number of a flood restoration specialist. List where important documents can be found. For example, specify the location, address, and phone number a safety deposit box is located if insurance policies, deeds, etc. are kept in there.
A disaster plan should also include the steps to take to prepare your property for flood damage, such as where to locate an electrical panel with instructions on how it can be turned off. Also create written instructions on how to turn off water and gas lines and their locations. In these instructions, add a reminder that only a professional should turn these utilities on again.
Make sure everyone is clear on where to meet up should there be an evacuation and include the name, location, and phone number for this place. It is also helpful to include directions that indicate how to get to the evacuation site. Evacuation locations do not have to be in just one spot. They can include an out-of-town location, out-of-county location, and so on. When creating directions on how to get to an evacuation site, keep in mind which roads will be closed by authorities during a flood.
Keep an emergency kit with your written disaster plan. First aid supplies, water, a radio, flashlights, and extra batteries are essential in this kit. Other things to include in a kit would be non-perishable foods and a can opener, medicine, rain gear, protective clothing, and sleeping bags. If there will be elderly people, children, babies, or pets, consider their special needs.
Is there a way to restore any data that could be lost? A flood restoration specialist specializes in paper document restoration. They can help dry documents; restore flood-damaged documents, flood-damaged books, and damaged property. Wet documents can quickly make a business or home come to a stand-still. Having a way to access or restore information after a disaster can make the difference between getting back on your feet quickly or becoming a statistic.
Prepare now to minimize your losses and protect your property from flood damage. It is easier to plan ahead than whish you would have.
“Are You Ready?: Floods”. FEMA. 30 May 2008. 4 April 2009.
“Flood and Flash Flood”. American Red Cross. 2008. 4 April 2009.
“Flood: Minimize Flood Damage”. DisasterSafety.org. 4 April 2009.