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Preparing Ahead for Spring Floods

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Preparing Ahead for Spring Floods

By: Adam M. Matheny

Flooding can Happen Anywhere

Flooding is far and away the most common natural disaster in the United States. It can occur in every state and every US territory. Not all floods, however, are alike. Some develop slowly, as rain accumulates, while others take form quickly—even without rain.

No matter where you live, you should prepare for flooding. Some areas, however, should take special care. If you’re in a low lying region near water or your property is downstream from a dam, it is particularly important. Some people don’t realize that even a very small creak or a dry stream bed can be a catalyst for flooding.

Here’s a list of things you can do to prepare:

  • Know what types of flood risk your area may be prone to. FEMA’s flood map service center can be a good starting point.
  • Understand that flooding can occur anywhere, even if it’s not on a risk map. Flood policies can take up to thirty days to go into effect, and homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Talk to your insurance provider now to find out how to get coverage.
  • If your community has a warning system, make sure that you’re signed up for alerts.
  • Keep a good weather app on your phone. The Red Cross app “Emergency” can allow you to tailor your notifications to keep you up to date.
  • Buy a weather radio. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio provides you with alerts for emergencies.
  • Practice evacuation routes, meet up plans, and emergency shelter for flash flood events.
  • Waterproof your basement and ensure your sump pump is in good working condition.
  • If you have pets, make special plans for them in the event of a weather emergency. Many shelters don’t allow animals.
  • Never drive into flooded areas. If your car is surrounded by rising water, it’s better to get out and move to higher ground.
  • Avoid downed power lines, due to the risk of electrocution or shock.
  • Don’t return to a home in a flooded area unless your local officials indicate that it is safe. Often, damage can occur after the flood waters receded, and that damage can be dangerous—like collapsed roads. Drinking water may also be contaminated.

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