Be prepared for a flood disaster

Elvis Elvis

A flood disaster can be just as devastating and dangerous as any other natural disaster. It can also be caused by sewer backups, leaking pipes, and water main breaks. The clean up and health risks can be enormous too. So it is important to take precautionary measures to protect your home and family.

Preventive Measures for a Flood Disaster
Basements are notorious for flooding so we begin there. An unfinished basement is easier to deal with than one with drywall, carpeting, and furniture. Installing a submersible sump pump with battery backup is a good first measure to reduce the likelihood of excess water in your basement. At minimum you should have a wet vac and dehumidifier.

If your basement has a furnace, hot water heater, electrical box then these items should either be raised or moved altogether. Please note – you should have a professional move or remove and install these items.

Be prepared with a survival kit, extra food, and water. Store plenty of water because your tap or well water may become undrinkable. (Do not drink your tap water until you receive official word that it is safe to do so.)

Improve the drainage around your home if possible. Water should be directed down away from the house and not allowed to sit stagnant next to your foundation. Likewise, you should move accumulated snow away from your house.

When You Expect a Flood Disaster
If you expect a flood disaster you should take quick but well thought out measures.

If you have time to sandbag your house (or other facility) you will probably need to enlist the help of friends. Sandbags should provide a barrier around the building, but should not touch it. Create walls by building the base 3 times as wide as the expected height. Each layer should be put down perpendicular to the prior one with each successive bag laying on the opening of the one just set down. Plastic sheeting on the outer side of the sandbags can add extra protection.

Move outdoor items inside. Raise or stack furniture, so that most items are not on the floor. Don’t forget about paperwork, books, clothing, chemicals etc. If you have a second floor, move everything up there.

Consider whether you should leave or stay. If there is an evacuation notice – leave right away. However, flooding is often house to house, dependent on property layout. It can be more dangerous to drive through a storm than to risk flooding. Flash flooding can also make the roads hazardous.


Flash Flood Disaster
Certain areas are ripe for flash flood disaster. Any low lying area where rainfall cannot be absorbed by the ground quickly may be subject to frequent flash floods. The main difference from a regular flood is that they form within 6 hours.

If you see water crossing a street and cannot tell how deep it is do not drive through it. 6 inches of water can sweep a car away. Instead turn around.

Areas that are prone to flash flood disaster will have water meters in low lying areas. These gauges will allow you to read how deep the water is. Barricades may have been put up as well. Never go around a barricade – turn around instead.

Don’t let the relatively small size of a flash flood deceive you. Every year several people are swept away whether on foot or in a vehicle, and many of them die.

Surviving a Flood Disaster
If you find yourself fighting for your life in a flood you will need to keep your wits about you. There may be times when you have to act quickly, and times when you have to wait for hours.

Turn off the gas and electricity (if it can be done safely).

Try to stay dry. Move to high ground, even if that’s on your roof. It is not uncommon for people to literally cut a hole in their roof to get on top of their homes. Do what it takes to save your life. Take your survival kit, first aid kit, and NOAA radio with you. If possible take some bottled water as well.

If you have a boat keep it handy, but don’t use it until the water has calmed down. Even with a motor, the currents can put you in a dangerous situation. Rushing waters can easily capsize a small boat. Do wear your life jacket though.

Don’t try to walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Wait for help. You may have to wait a long time, but don’t lose hope. Panic leads to poor decisions. Clear thinking will save your life.

Be prepared for a flood disaster

Returning Home After a Flood Disaster
Only return after safety officials have cleared it. Be careful. Watch out for splintered boards and loose nails. Wear sturdy shoes or boots. Wear gloves. Use a flashlight.

Let professionals restore gas and electrical power after a flood disaster. Again, do not drink the water unless it has been tested and ruled safe. Insulated appliances will need to have the insulation replaced by a professional.

Remember that animals may have entered your home during the flood. They may still be there. Snakes, rats, spiders, and other critters may not appreciate your return.

Water damage may be extensive. Test wall strength and look for structural weaknesses. Standing water should be drained slowly as abrupt changes in pressure can cause other problems. Water can also be trapped inside walls; remove baseboards and make small drainage holes to see if water comes out.

Cleaning supplies will also be needed. Disinfect everything. Make sure everything dries out completely; this can take weeks. Do not paint for at least 2 months to make sure everything is dry. You may need to replace walls, ceilings, floorboards, and insulation.

Look for mold. Black mold can be dangerous; if you begin to feel sick leave your home immediately. Clean walls with bleach water to prevent mold from forming.

Take garbage bags with you, as you will need to dispose of a lot of items. You may want to keep some samples of carpeting or furniture to show your insurance adjuster. Write down a list of damages, take photos, and save any receipts too. Throw out any food, medicines, or cosmetics.

The clean up effort can literally last months. It is also possible that if your home withstands a flood disaster that it will still be condemned. Be sure to work with officials and your insurance company to make the best of the situation.