How to prepare before flooding events

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Flooding is a risk people can face nearly every time of the year, causing nearly 100 deaths per year in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says floods are the second deadliest of all weather-related hazards in the United States. In addition, other hazards can apper after the storm has passed.

The National Weather Service says people should be aware of the difference between a Flood Watch and a Flood Warning along with what to do before, during and after a flood.

Before the Flood

The NWS says floods can sometimes devlop slowly, giving forecasters the ability to anticipate where they will happen. 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 located in a flash-flood-prone area.

The NWS encourages people to develop a communications plan with their friends and family. This can include having a specific person designated to contact for status updates or a safe location to meet.

The CDC says people should plan and practice a flood evacuation route, and learn about their community’s emergency plans, warning signals, evacuation routes, and locations of emergency shelters.

People should also have an emergency kit ready at all times to last them at least three days in the case of an emergency. A 2019 FEMA survey shows 80 percent of respondents said they had gethered enough supplies to last three or more days.

The CDC says people should have these things on hand in the event of an emergency:

  • An emergency kit for your car with food, flares, booster cables, maps, tools, a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, sleeping bags, etc.
  • Rubber boots, sturdy shoes, and waterproof gloves.
  • Insect repellent containing DEET or Picaridin, screens, or long-sleeved and long-legged clothing for protection from mosquitoes which may gather in pooled water remaining after the flood.

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 floodwaters if possible. However, filling sandbags can take more time than one might think.

Homeowners can also have a professional install check-valves in plumbing to prevent floodwaters from backing up into the drains.

Since standard homeowners insurance does not cover flooding, people should make sure they are covered by contacting their insurance company or agent to buy flood insurance. This has to be done before there is even a threat of flooding.

If it is likely that the home will flood, 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 potential evacuation:

  • Fill your vehicle’s gas tank and make sure the emergency kit for your car is ready.
  • If no vehicle is available, make arrangements with friends or family for transportation.
  • Identify essential documents such as medical records, insurance card along with ID cards and put in waterproof material to carry with you during evacuation.
  • Fill your clean water containers.
  • If you have pet, identify a shelter designated for pets.
  • Review your emergency plans and supplies, checking to see if any items are missing.
  • Tune in the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Listen for disaster sirens and warning signals.
  • Put livestock and family pets in a safe area. Due to food and sanitation requirements, emergency shelters cannot accept animals.
  • Adjust the thermostat on refrigerators and freezers to the coolest possible temperature.

If you are ordered to evacuate:

If a flood warning is issued for your area or you are directed by authorities to evacuate the area:

  • Take only essential items with you.
  • If you have time, turn off the gas, electricity, and water.
  • Disconnect appliances to prevent electrical shock when power is restored.
  • Follow the designated evacuation routes and expect heavy traffic.
  • Do not attempt to drive or walk across creeks or flooded roads.

If you are NOT ordered to evacuate:

To get through the storm in the safest possible manner:

  • Monitor the radio or television for weather updates.
  • Prepare to evacuate to a shelter or to a neighbor’s home if your home is damaged, or if you are instructed to do so by emergency personnel.

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