BEFORE A FLOOD
Create an evacuation plan with more than one route to higher ground. You may have to travel by foot or in a vehicle.
Purchase flood insurance. Consult a local licensed insurance agent for the availability of flood insurance through the federally sponsored National Flood Insurance Program. Usually there is a five-day waiting period.
Keep informed by listening to your emergency radio or watching television if there is power.
If you are in an area that is prone to flooding, keep your survival kits, packs and items in a high and dry location with easy access.
You may want to purchase a small boat or a raft if there is a potential for flooding.
Obtain sandbags which may be available free at your local fire station or for purchase home improvement center.
Purchase plastic sheeting, plywood or any other items that may protect your home or business. Get these items well in advance and keep these on hand. Don’t try to go out a few days before a predicted hurricane and expect these items to be in stock.
Install ‘check valves’ in sewer traps to prevent floodwaters from backing up in sewer drains or purchase commercially made stoppers.
Fuel your vehicles in case evacuation becomes necessary. It is a good rule never to let your vehicle be less then half-full at any time. Also stock extra survival kits, packs and supplies in your vehicle at all times.
Notify the people on your emergency contact list of your intentions. If you are planning to drive to another town, state or area, let him or her know in advance. If you have special needs, contact your local authorities, such as the local fire department, and request help and information.
Find out where the local shelters are and if there is space still available for you and you loved ones.
Remember often times shelters are not equipped to shelter pets. Arrange for your pets well in advance. This means if you have to drive them to another area, do so. Don’t leave your family’s pets to fend for their selves, as they will not be able to on their own. They depend on you for survival.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, DON’T WAIT UNTIL IT IS TOO LATE TO TRY TO EVACUATE. GET OUT IMMEDIATELY IF YOU ARE NOTIFIED BY THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES OF A VOLUNTARY OR MANDATORY EVACUATION.
AFTER A FLOOD
Return home only when the authorities say that it is safe. Trying to return home before it is safe to do so not only puts your life in jeopardy but also puts the rescuers in danger also.
Be very careful when inspecting your home on your own for the first time.
– Use a flashlight, not a candle, torch, lantern or other flammable objects.
– Check for gas leaks (use your nose).
– Wear rubber-soled shoes and rubber gloves in case of severed electrical lines.
– Don’t turn on electrical switches.
– Shut off electrical circuits before checking to prevent electrocution.
If there is major structural damage or there are utility breaks, have qualified specialists inspect your home. The local Department of Building and Safety or the Fire Department may do this. If there is major damage, contact your insurance company. They may have a list of licensed contractors. Also, check with the local licensing agency regarding any contractors’ current license status. Unlicensed people or even licensed people that are more then willing to take advantage of you have approached many people.
Until making repairs of any flooded electrical appliances, do not use them.
Don’t drink municipal water until the health department has declared it is safe for human consumption.
Don’t rush to pump out a flooded basement. If there is water removal all at once, the walls may cave in because of the sudden pressure change. Pump out about a third of the water a day (ask the local Department of Building and Safety or the Fire Department for their recommendation). It may be easier to shovel most of the mud out of your basement while there is still some water remaining.
The Red Cross and FEMA are both agencies that help after disasters. Contact them as soon as possible.