How to stay prepared for possible flooding

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Flooding can often catch people off guard. That is why it is important to have a plan in place at all times.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said floods can develop slowly, allowing forecasters to anticipate where a flood will happen days or even weeks before it happens. Othertimes, flash floods can happen within minutes, sometimes without any sign of rain.

That is why the administration says people should have a plan in place including communication, knowing your risks and preparing your home and family in case of a flood.

Communication is key

The NOAA said it is important to be able to communicate with family and friends in the event of a disaster. This can range from having a specific person to contact for status updates to having a safe location set up to meet with family members.

To develop a plan, people should have phone numbers memorized or in a location easily accessible and know where to go and how to get there. The National Weather Service offers a printable family communications plan to help develop an emergency plan.

Know your risks

People should know if their home, business or school is in a floodplain. The administration also says people should be aware of where water is likely to collect on the roads and the fastest way to get to higher ground.

It is also important to know specific flooding risks for your area. Indiana is susceptible to:

  • flash flooding
    • This is a rapid and extreme flow of high water into a normally dry area, or a rapid water level rise in a stream or creek above a predetermined flood level. Read more about flash flooding here.
  • river flooding
    • This happens when river levels rise and overflow their banks or the edges of their main channel and inundate areas that are normally dry. Read more about river flooding here.
  • ice/debris jams
  • snowmelt
    • This happens when water from melting snow runs off the already saturated ground into nearby streams and rivers, causing them to rapidly rise and, in some cases, overflow their banks. Read more about snowmelt here.
  • dam breaks

Be prepared

The NOAA said it is good practice to have enough food, water and medicine on hand at all times to last you at least three days in the case of an emergency. That is because water service might be interrupted or unsafe to drink and food requiring little to no refrigeration may be needed if electric power is interrupted.

To prepare your home for potential flooding. The administration suggests the following tips:

  • If you have access to sandbags or other materials, use them to protect your home from floodwaters if you have sufficient time to do so. Filling sandbags can take more time than you may think.
  • Have a professional install check-valves in plumbing to prevent floodwaters from backing up into the drains of your home. Make sure your sump pump is working and consider having a backup. Make sure your electric circuit breakers, or fuses, are clearly marked for each area of your home.
  • Since standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, ensure coverage by contacting your insurance company or agent to purchase flood insurance. This must be done before there is even a threat of flooding as insurance companies stop issuing policies if there is a threat of flooding. Many flood insurance policies take at least 30 days to go into effect so even if you can buy it as a storm is approaching, it may not protect your investment.

The administration also suggests having batteries, blankets, flashlights, first aid kit, rubber boots, rubber gloves, and an NOAA Weather Radio or other battery-operated radio easily available. For a full list of items to include in an emergency kit, check out The Federal Emergency Management Association’s printable emergency checklist.

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