Disaster Prep Summer Series: Floods

Photo by marnanel
Floods are one of the emergencies where evacuation is one of those disasters where you will need to evacuate if you are in an affected area.  You can't bug in if your house is on fire or under water.
Floods can happen even if it has only been raining for a couple of hours.

Flash Flood Warning: Flooding or Flash Flooding is happening or will happen in your area.
Flash Flood Watch: Flooding or Flash Flooding is Possible in your area.

An important thing to remember is that mud slides often go hand in hand with large floods especially in hilly or mountain areas.

What Can I do to Prepare?

Make sure your 72 hour kits are stocked and ready to go.  Make sure too that you have appropriate rain gear to keep yourself, your pets and your supplies dry.  Ponchos and large garbage bags make for good and cost efficient rain gear.
Speak with your insurance company and see about purchasing a flood insurance policy.  Most regular homeowners and renters policies do not cover flood damage.
Speak with your neighbors.  If you have just recently moved to a new area, speak with your neighbors about what sort of disasters have happened in your neighborhood before.
Consider either purchasing or seeing if your local authorities will provide any sandbags before a storm that might cause flooding.  These can help divert water and mud slides away from your property.

The Storm has Started.  Now What?

As soon as you become aware that there is a chance that a flood or mud slide might happen, start packing your car then.  Just like with wildfires, back your car into your garage and get it packed, check that you have a full tank of gas, make sure all pets have been rounded up and are contained so you can grab them quickly.  Make sure family members are dressed and will be ready to leave.
Know your evacuation area.  Speak with local emergency responders well ahead of time about where the best area to evacuate is.
DO NOT GO IN THE WATER PERIOD.  Even a little stream as low as 6 inches and knock your feet out from under you.  Also flood waters are usually very dirty and difficult to see through so they can be hiding items like broken glass or other sharp objects.  Running around in deep puddles or streams can put you or your pets and children in danger of getting an injury as well as a nasty infection.  Do NOT try and drive through a flooded road.  As little as 2 feet of water can not only cause your car to stall but can sweep a car away if the current is fast enough.  If you do find yourself caught in a car that is stalled in flood water, abandon your car immediately and move to higher ground.

The Flood is Over...

After the flood, wait until local authorities have declared your area safe before returning to your home.  Once you return, the first thing you need to do is check your house and property for things like down or damaged power or gas lines.  Very thoroughly check your foundation, structures and roofs for any damage that might cause them to be unsafe.  If they are, do not enter your property. Contact your local authorities and insurance company immediately and find an alternative living situation per their instructions.  Also make sure to check your house for wildlife like snakes that might have taken refuge in your home during the flood.
Be very aware of mold.  Anything that has gotten wet can become contaminated so if your structure has any water damage, contact your insurance company and follow their instructions on how to go about having the mess cleaned up and keep your family safe.
Contact your local water company and check that your local water supply is safe.  Double check that there is not a boil order or anything like that before consuming any water from the tap.  Remember this goes for your pets too.  If you wouldn't drink that water do NOT put it in their water bowl.  Also keep pets from drinking from puddles or standing water outside.

Most important tip is use your brain.  Think everything through carefully and be aware of your situation.

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Until next time...