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Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather: Floods

Do you know how to protect your home in the event of extreme weather? We’ve prepared a Checklist for Preparing Your Home for Extreme Weather that includes a list of things to keep on hand, packed up and ready at all times for any natural disaster situation. When it comes to floods, here is what you should know about them and how you can prepare for them.

Prepare home for a flood.

About Floods

Floods can occur across the United States, generally caused by excessive rainfall, excessive snowmelt, storm surge from hurricanes, and dam failure. According to USA Today, the nation saw the most floods in 2016 since records started in 1980 with 19 floods.

There are three main types of floods to look out for: Coastal (Surge), River (Fluvial) and Surface (Pluvial) Floods.

  1. Coastal floods occur in areas along the coast (ocean or large body of water) and are typically the result of severe weather. Storm surges are the leading cause of coastal flooding and often the greatest threat associated with a tropical storm.
  2. River floods occur when water levels exceed the top of the river bank, either from excessive rainfall or snowmelt. The two types of fluvial floods are overbank flooding (when water rises overflows over the edges of a river or stream) and flash flooding (when an intense, high velocity torrent of water occurs in an existing river channel with little to no notice).
  3. Surface floods occur when heavy rainfall creates a flood event independent of an overflowing water body. People often assume that just because they aren’t located near a large body of water, they aren’t at risk of a flood. Surface floods can happen in any urban area, when intense rain saturates an urban drainage system or run-off from rain falling on hillsides that are unable to absorb the water. Areas damaged by wildfires are particularly susceptible to flash floods during rain storms because there is less vegetation to absorb the rain.

Protect Your Home From Floods

Flooding can happen anytime and anywhere and floods can cause mass devastation. Flood waters are powerful and can tear out trees, destroy buildings and bridges, and much more. When listening to the weather forecast, keep an ear out for the following advisories or warnings:

  • Flash flood watch - be prepared, conditions are favorable for a flash flood
  • Flash flood warning - take action, a flash flood is imminent or occurring
  • Flood watch (river flood watch or coastal flood watch) - be prepared, conditions are favorable for a flood
  • Flood advisory or Coastal flood advisory - be aware, a flood is forecasted and may cause significant inconvenience, but is not bad enough to warrant a warning
  • Flood warning (river flood warning or coastal flood warning) - take action, a flood is imminent or already happening

Things to know:

In order to prepare your home for flooding, take the following suggestions:

  • Beware of Flood Zones - know if you are in a flood zone so you can best prepare for emergency situations. If you are, it is best to elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Learn your city’s Alert System for flood warnings.
  • Create a family flood plan - have a plan in place with your family. Declare a meet up location in case your family is separated and choose an out of town contact that you can all call to notify them of your whereabouts.
How to protect your home in a flood.

Things to do:

  • Install backflow prevention valves to keep floodwaters from backing up into your drains.
  • Raise your furniture and appliances - if flooding is imminent, raise your furnace, water heater, appliances, and other items off the floor.
  • Maintain your sump pump - keep your sump pump in working condition.
  • Purchase a generator to have on site in case of power outages.
  • Construct barriers with concrete walls, sandbags and dirt fill.
  • Shut off all utilities if you are expecting a flood in your home.
  • Store important items and documents in a water safe container that is placed up high.
  • Head to higher ground if a flood warning is issued.

Things not to do:

  • Do not drive into flood waters. You could get swept away, even in just a few inches of water.
  • Do not swim in flood water. It is most likely contaminated with hazardous materials and dangerous debris (and maybe snakes).
  • Do not step in standing water.
  • Do not use tap water until officials say it is safe to do so.

After a Flood

When the officials have given the all clear to return home, proceed with caution. Look out for downed power lines, utility line damage, and structural damages. Take pictures to fully document any damages and call your insurer to determine the cause of the flood and the extent of your coverage.

Throw out any food that has touch flood waters and wear waders, rubber gloves and waterproof boots to remove damaged items. Clean and disinfect all wet areas. Take action if your windows or roof have been damaged and your house is at risk of letting in more water by putting up boards or tarps.

Find out if you are in a Disaster Area, which means you will have access to additional recovery resources and financial assistance. Once you get the OK from your insurance company, remove the water with a sump pump. Keep your doors and windows open while you do so to allow fresh air to circulate (unless doing so causes more water to come in). Lookout for mold in the days and weeks following a flood.

Want more home advice? Nestiny is a great place for home education and to help you gauge how ready you are to buy a home. Journey Homeward allows you to enter all of your wants and needs while the True Affordability Tool will break down your budget, showing what you can comfortably afford. You will also receive a free Ready Report that is personalized based upon the information that you entered. This report will give you a vital head start in the home buying journey, saving you valuable time and money.

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