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Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Tips to prepare for natural disasters like Hurricanes, Tornadoes, Earthquakes, Tsunamis etc...

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Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby itsadisaster » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:52 pm

Please add any other safety tips, links and/or experiences that can help others! Thx, itsa

Floods are the most common natural disaster. Everyone is at risk from floods and flash floods, even in areas that seem harmless in dry weather. And many natural disasters like hurricanes, thunderstorms, and melting snow cause flooding. Living near a dam or levee can also increase your flood risk.

Flood damage is the second most common disaster-related expense of insured losses reported worldwide. According to FEMA, everyone lives in a flood zone - it’s just a question of whether you live in a low, moderate or high risk area.

There are certain parts of North America known as "flood plains" that are at high risk of floods. Consider contacting your local emergency management official to use the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) or to develop a community-based approach since there may be funds available to assist you and your area. (a link to maps at bottom)

Some examples of State grant programs officials can access include the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) Program, and the Pre-Disaster Mitigation (PDM) Program.
Individual citizens cannot apply for grant money but local agencies or nonprofit organizations may apply on behalf of citizens.

There are some things you can do to mitigate (or lessen) the impact disasters have on people, property, communities and the economy. Mitigation is also about reducing or eliminating risks before disasters strike and involves planning, commitment, preparation and communication between local, state and federal government officials, businesses and the general public.

Remember... the more you prepare BEFORE disaster strikes, the better off you and your loved ones will be financially, emotionally and physically.


BEFORE A FLOOD (OR HEAVY RAIN):

Get flood insurance – Regular insurance companies will cover some claims due to water damage like a broken water main or a washing machine that goes berserk. However, standard home insurance policies DO NOT generally cover flood (or mud) damage caused by natural events or disasters!

The U.S. offers a National Flood Insurance Program available in most communities and there is a waiting period for coverage. Both homeowners and renters can get flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP. Talk to your insurance agent or call NFIP at 1-888-379-9531 or visit http://www.floodsmart.gov

Did you know...

... you can buy federal flood insurance through most major insurance companies and licensed agents?!

... you do not have to own a home to have flood insurance as long as your community participates in the NFIP?!

... NFIP offers coverage even in flood-prone areas and offers basement and below ground level coverage?!

Currently Canadians do not have a national flood program, however certain parts of Canada offer limited flood-damage coverage but it must be purchased year-round and rates are relatively high. Visit http://www.ibc.ca

Get weather radios - NOAA Weather Radio or Environment Canada Weatheradio with battery backup and tone-alert feature can alert you when Watches or Warnings have been issued.

Move valuables to higher ground - If your home or business is prone to flooding, you should move valuables and appliances out of the basement or ground level floors.

Elevate breakers, fuse box and meters
- Consider phoning a professional to elevate the main breaker or fuse box and utility meters above the anticipated flood level so flood waters won’t damage your utilities. Also consider putting heating, ventilation and air conditioning units in the upper story or attic to protect from flooding.

Protect your property - Build barriers and landscape around homes or buildings to stop or reduce floodwaters and mud from entering. Also consider sealing basement walls with waterproofing compounds and installing "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent flood water from backing up into drains.

Learn the buzzwords - Learn the terms / words used with floods...
Flood watch - flooding is possible
Flash flood watch - flash flooding is possible so move to higher ground if in a low-lying area
Flood warning - flooding is occurring or will occur soon so listen to radio or TV for updates or evacuation alerts
Flash flood warning - flash flood is occurring so seek higher ground on foot immediately
Urban and Small Stream Advisory - flooding of small streams, streets and low-lying areas is occurring

Learn risks - Ask you local emergency management office if your property is a flood-prone or high-risk area and what you can do to reduce risks to your property and home. Find out what official flood warning signals are and what to do when you hear them. Ask if there are dams or levees nearby and if they could be hazards.

Make a plan - Develop a Family Emergency Plan (e.g. map out evacuation routes, decide where you and your family will meet if separated, teach family members how to shut off main utility switches, discuss what to do with pets and critters, etc). And assemble Disaster Supplies Kits or BOB in case you have to bail.

Learn to shut off - Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves -- and ask local utilities for instructions.

Put it on film/chip/drive - Either videotape or take pictures of home and personal belongings and store them in a safe place with important papers.


DURING A FLOOD (OR HEAVY RAIN):

Be aware - Listen to local news and watch for flash floods especially if near streams, drainage channels, and areas known to flood. Be prepared to fill and place sandbags in areas as instructed to help combat rising waters.

Get to higher ground - If in a low-lying area, move to higher ground.

Prepare to evacuate – and IF time also…
- Secure home and move important items to upper floors.
- Turn off utilities at main switches or valves if instructed by authorities and DO NOT touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water!
- Fill up your car with fuel.

Obey warnings - If road signs, barricades, or cones are placed in areas – DO NOT drive around them! Find another way or you may get fined.

Things to avoid:
moving water - 6 inches (15 cm) of moving water can knock you off your feet and 2 ft (0.6 m) can float a car
flooding car - if flood waters rise around your car, get out and move to higher ground if you can do it safely
bad weather - leave early enough so you’re not trapped
flooded areas - roadways and bridges may be washed-out
downed power lines - extremely dangerous in floods!!


AFTER A FLOOD (OR HEAVY RAIN):

Things to avoid:
flood waters - avoid since they may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage or may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines - local authorities will say when it’s okay to return
moving water - 6 inches (15 cm) can knock you off your feet and 2 ft (0.6 m) can float a car
flooded areas - roadways and bridges may be washed-out
downed power lines - extremely dangerous and report them to the power company

Obey warnings - If road signs, barricades, or cones are placed in areas - OBEY THEM! Most areas fine people who ignore posted warnings. DO NOT drive around barricades… find another way to get there! (As fyi, Arizona has a “stupid motorist law” meaning if someone crosses a barrier and gets stuck, they pay for the entire cost of the rescue. Hopefully more states will follow suit.)

Strange critters - Watch out for snakes and other wildlife in areas that were flooded. Don’t try to care for a wounded critter since it may try to attack you... call your local animal control office or animal shelter.

Flooded food - Throw away food that has come into contact with flood waters since eating it can make you sick.

Drinking water - Officials will advise when water is safe to drink. If you have a well that gets contaminated, find another source or boil water.

Wash your hands - Wash hands often with clean water and soap since flood waters are dirty and full of germs!

Use bleach – The best thing to use for cleaning up flooded areas is household bleach since it helps kill germs.

Sandbags - If any sandbags come into contact with floodwaters, wear rubber gloves when removing them and follow officials’ instructions on where to discard them since they’re most likely contaminated.

Listen - Continue listening to radio or TV for updates on weather and tips on getting assistance for housing, clothing, food, etc.

Insurance - If your home suffers any damage, contact your insurance agent and keep all receipts for clean-up and repairs.

Mold - Consider asking a restoration professional to inspect your house for mold. Also check out http://www.epa.gov/mold

Some additional things to check and do...
- Check electrical system (watch for sparks, broken wires or the smell of hot insulation)
- Check appliances after turning off electricity at main fuse and, if wet, unplug and let them dry out. Call a professional to check them before using.
- Check water and sewage system and, if pipes are damaged, turn off main water valve.
- Throw out food, makeup and medicines that may have been exposed to flood waters and check refrigerated foods to see if they are spoiled. If frozen foods have ice crystals in them then okay to refreeze.
- Throw out moldy items that are porous (like rotten wood, carpet padding, furniture, etc.) if they’re too difficult to clean and remove mold. Remove standing water and scrub moldy surfaces with non-ammonia soap or detergent, or a commercial cleaner, rinse with clean water and dry completely. Then use a mixture of 1 part bleach to 10 parts clean water to wipe down surfaces or items, rinse and dry.
- Secure valuable items or move them to another location, if possible


Above extracted from IT'S A DISASTER! book (proceeds benefit APN)


Additional resources - this is just a tiny sampling of sites...

EPA’s Safewater site (emergency disinfecting data, tips for well & septic owners, etc)
http://www.epa.gov/safewater/emergency/index.html

Iowa Conservation and Preservation Consortium's "Flood Recovery Booklet" (includes tips on how to dry materials like artwork, books, photographs, CD/DVDs, etc - search booklet name using their search box) http://www.neilsa.org

The Institute for Business & Home Safety (tips on basements, fuel tanks, etc) http://www.disastersafety.org

National Flood Insurance Program (the maps feature is under "Flooding & Flood Risk" menu) http://www.floodsmart.gov

National Landslide Information Center Learning & Education page (see menu on left side)
http://landslides.usgs.gov/learning/

NOAA’s National Weather Service Flood Safety page (various resources plus main Flood Safety Awareness site from March) http://www.floodsafety.noaa.gov

Some other related topics on APN forum include Landslides & Mudflows, Winter Storms and Ice Storms and Floods
Be Aware... Be Prepared... and Have a Plan! Download a free 58-pg ebook portion of IT'S A DISASTER! ...and what are YOU gonna do about it? with tips about hurricanes, floods, evacuations, wildfires, kits + more
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Re: Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby itsadisaster » Sat Mar 10, 2012 11:21 pm

Bumping this up since March 12 – 16, 2012 is National Flood Awareness week. The week is intended to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what you can do to save life and property.

I also wanted to add a few more sites that might be helpful...

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone avoid unnecessary exposure to mold, especially anyone at high risk for infection. For more information on mold or mold cleanup visit http://www.cdc.gov/mold/cleanup.htm .

The Environmental Protection Agency offers a comprehensive, 20-page guide, "Mold, Moisture and Your Home" at http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html
Be Aware... Be Prepared... and Have a Plan! Download a free 58-pg ebook portion of IT'S A DISASTER! ...and what are YOU gonna do about it? with tips about hurricanes, floods, evacuations, wildfires, kits + more
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Re: Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby IceFire » Fri Apr 20, 2012 9:17 pm

Just an addition to "itsa's" excellent post. On the subject of obeying warnings....one of the most commonly ignored ones around here are the posted signs warning "Do not enter when flooded". People, those signs are there for a REASON! Just last year we had a young school teacher IGNORE one of those signs at a "dip" in the road...her vehicle was washed into an arroyo and she was killed (drowned). Her body (still in her vehicle) was not found for several days.
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Re: Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby itsadisaster » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:27 pm

bumping this up in case the "after" tips & resources can help Florida residents (or others) dealing with recent floods...
Be Aware... Be Prepared... and Have a Plan! Download a free 58-pg ebook portion of IT'S A DISASTER! ...and what are YOU gonna do about it? with tips about hurricanes, floods, evacuations, wildfires, kits + more
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Re: Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby LetsPrep11 » Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:00 pm

Floods are no joke. My family and I survived the 1994 flood in Georgia. We were shocked at the damage.
I want to stress; never, ever drive on a road or parking lot that's been flooded. Even if the road appears to be intact, it might not be safe. There were several cases of people driving over flooded roads, unaware that the soil below the blacktop had been washed away, removing the support. A river of water ran underneath. Their vehicles broke through the blacktop into the rushing waters below and died. One guy was just joyriding in a shopping center parking lot and it cost him his life.

I recently read about a new type of sandbag. It's designed like the long draft dodgers and its filled with water instead of sand. They're much easier to handle (no sand to buy or shovel) and they seal against doorways better.
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Re: Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby itsadisaster » Wed Jan 30, 2013 9:34 pm

So true LetsPrep11 .. one never knows what might be in flood waters or if a road is even still there. And if you mean those "floodsax" .. those look cool. A wee bit pricey but worth the investment if you live in a flood prone or high risk area.
Be Aware... Be Prepared... and Have a Plan! Download a free 58-pg ebook portion of IT'S A DISASTER! ...and what are YOU gonna do about it? with tips about hurricanes, floods, evacuations, wildfires, kits + more
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Re: Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby andyson » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:20 am

The lines I always hear are "I got nothing to hide, so what's the big deal?" and "It's just the way it is now." We're blind to the big picture and just keep throwing away our rights.

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Re: Flooding: Mitigation + safety tips

Postby theoutback » Sat Feb 11, 2017 7:44 am

Very good thread Itsa!

I'll add a little here. When hurricane Irene came through here in Vermont it devastated the state. On the face of it, it didn't sound bad for a hurricane, only a cat 1. As it made landfall in NJ it had dropped to a tropical storm and we might of had sustained winds of 40-50 mph up here. It rained much harder than we are used to, but again, for a Hurricane/ tropical storm it wasn't bad, maybe 7 inches. However that was enough to overflood every river, brook and stream, wiping out mountainsides and roads with massive mudslides. People and towns in the mountains were cut off for weeks with no power and resources. Several homes and barns were washed away, along with a few lost lives.

So, the take home message is to take note and be prepared for possible devastating loss in mountainous areas. Extra water, food and coms could prove invaluable.


On a positive note, our roads and bridges have been rebuilt and in better shape than ever!
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