How to prepare for the flood
Flooding is a risk that people can face almost any time of the year, causing nearly 100 deaths a year in the United States.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says flooding is the second deadliest of all weather-related hazards in the United States. In addition, other dangers may appear after the storm has passed.
The National Weather Service says people need to be aware of the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning as well as what to do before, during and after a flood.
Before the flood
The NWS says flooding can sometimes develop slowly, giving forecasters the ability to anticipate where it will occur. Other times flash floods can occur within minutes, sometimes without any sign of rain.
The CDC encourages people to know their risk. They encourage people to contact the local county geologist or county planning department to find out if their home is in an area prone to flash floods.
The NWS encourages people to develop a communication plan with their friends and family. This may include designating a specific person to contact for status updates or a safe place to meet.
CDC says people should plan and practice an evacuation route in the event of a flood, and learn about emergency plans, warning signs, evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations of their community.
People should also have an emergency kit ready at all times to last at least three days in an emergency. A 2019 FEMA survey shows that 80% of those polled said they gathered enough supplies to last three days or more.
The CDC says people should have these things on hand in an emergency:
- An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
- Rubber boots, sturdy shoes and waterproof gloves.
- Insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin, shields or long-sleeved, long-legged clothing to protect against mosquitoes that can accumulate in accumulated water after flooding.
How to prepare your home for flooding
The NWS says people with access to sandbags or other materials should use them to protect their homes from flood water if possible. However, filling sandbags may take longer than you think.
Homeowners can also have a professional install check valves in the plumbing to prevent flood water from backing up drains.
Since standard home insurance does not cover flooding, people should make sure they are covered by contacting their insurance company or agent to purchase flood insurance. This must be done before there is even a threat of flooding.
While the house is likely to be flooded, people should not wait to be ordered to leave. People should evacuate at the first sign of flooding. The CDC says to prepare your home, car and loved ones for a possible evacuation:
- Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure your car emergency kit is ready.
- If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
- Identify essential documents such as medical records, insurance card and identity cards and put waterproof material to take with you during the evacuation.
- Fill your containers with clean water.
- If you have a pet, identify a designated pet shelter.
- Go over your contingency plans and supplies, checking for any missing items.
- Plug in the radio or television for weather updates.
- Listen to disaster sirens and warning signals.
- Keep livestock and pets in a safe place. Due to food and health requirements, emergency shelters cannot accept pets.
- Set the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest temperature possible.
If you receive the order to evacuate:
If a flood warning is issued for your area or if the authorities ask you to evacuate the area:
- Take only essential items with you.
- If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity and water.
- Unplug appliances to avoid electric shock when power is restored.
- Follow designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.
- Do not attempt to drive or cross streams or flooded roads.
If you do NOT receive the order to evacuate:
To weather the storm in the safest way possible:
- Monitor the radio or television for weather updates.
- Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or a neighbor’s house if your house is damaged or if emergency personnel ask you to do so.
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