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.
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.
Some things to secure and protect your home include …
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 www.floodsmart.gov
Did you know…
… 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 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. Find more landslide mitigation tips
Learn risks - Ask your 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 in case you have to bail.
Stay safe – Did you know…
Other disasters – Be aware flooding can also cause landslides and mudflows. Listen for trees cracking, rocks banging together or water flowing rapidly (esp if near a stream or river) - debris flow may be close by.
Flooded basement - pump it out slowly (about 1/3 of the water per day) to avoid damage since walls may collapse if surrounding ground still waterlogged.
Download a complimentary 56-pg portion of It's A Disaster! book at www.fedhealth.net/usfra.html (proceeds benefit USFRA)
EPA’s Safewater site (emergency disinfecting data, tips for well & septic owners, etc) http://water.epa.gov/drink/emerprep/index.cfm
The Institute for Business & Home Safety (tips on basements, fuel tanks, etc) www.disastersafety.org
National Flood Insurance Program (the maps feature is under "Flooding & Flood Risk" menu) www.floodsmart.gov
National Landslide Information Center Learning & Education page (see menu on left side) http://landslides.usgs.gov/learn/
NOAA’s National Weather Service Flood Safety page (various resources plus main Flood Safety Awareness site from March) www.floodsafety.noaa.gov