As a responsible property owner, preparing for a potential flood should be at the top of your priority list. Floods can happen unexpectedly and cause significant damage to your property if you are not prepared. This guide will provide you with tips to help you prepare for a flood.
Know Your Risk
The first step in preparing for a flood is understanding your risk level. Research your area's flood history and potential hazards. There are many helpful free resources to help you do so! For example, you can contact your local emergency management office, or review FEMA's flood maps online to assess your risk. It is essential to know if you live in a high-risk flood zone or floodplain, which means that there is a higher chance of flooding occurring in your area. If you are unsure about your risk level, it is always best to err on the side of caution and take necessary precautions.
LandGate’s free property report contains data about whether or not your property is located in a floodplain:
Create an Emergency Plan
Having an emergency plan in place is crucial when it comes to natural disasters like floods. Your plan should include evacuation routes, a designated meeting place for your family, and important contact information for emergency services. Make sure to share this plan with all members of your household and discuss it regularly so that everyone knows what to do in case of a flood.
Have Flood Insurance
Most homeowner's insurance policies do not cover flood damage, so it is essential to purchase separate flood insurance for your property. Contact your insurance provider to determine if you are eligible for a National Flood Insurance Program policy. Keep in mind that it takes 30 days for the policy to go into effect, so it is best to get the coverage as soon as possible.
Prepare Your Home From a Flood
There are several steps you can take to protect your home before a flood occurs.
Clean Your Gutters: Make sure to regularly clean your gutters and downspouts to allow proper water flow away from your property.
Install Flood Barriers: Consider installing flood barriers or sandbags around the perimeter of your home. These can help prevent water from entering your property.
Seal Your Home: Take a stroll around your home and inspect for gaps and cracks that could allow water to seep in. Keep an eye out for leak-prone areas such as windows, doors, and cable or pipe openings, and seal them up with caulk. Enhance the waterproofing of your basement walls with an appropriate compound, and assess the windows for any signs of damage. If you reside in a flood-prone region, it might be wise to consider investing in a sump pump with a battery backup for added peace of mind.
Elevate Utilities: If you reside in an area prone to flooding, ensure that your furnace, water heater, electrical panel, and other critical home systems are elevated at least 12 inches above the base flood elevation (BFE). You can determine the BFE by using FEMA's elevation tool or by reaching out to your local floodplain administrator.
Make an Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit with essential items such as first aid supplies, non-perishable food, bottled water, and a portable radio. Keep this kit in an easily accessible location in case you need to evacuate quickly.
Protect Your Land From a Flood
Flooding can also have a devastating impact on farmland and rural land, so it’s important to take proactive steps before a flood occurs. Here are some tips to help you prepare your land:
Implement Proper Drainage: Constructing ditches, implementing irrigation systems, and designating run-off areas are effective measures to safeguard your property against potential flooding. By strategically directing water flow through ditches and channels, you can ensure it reaches the desired run-off areas, which should be designated for this purpose.
Store Crop Seeds & Feed in a Safe Place: If you are a farmer, make sure to store your crop seeds in a safe place where they will not be damaged by the floodwaters. Similarly, it's crucial to have an inventory of feed supplies readily available, especially considering the potential unavailability of feed assistance during a flood. Ranchers are advised to proactively designate sites on elevated grounds for hay storage, emergency water supplies, and fencing supplies or panels. This foresight ensures preparedness and enhances the ability to effectively navigate challenging circumstances.
Have an Emergency Plan for Livestock: Flooding poses a significant threat to livestock on pasture. It is crucial to develop a comprehensive plan that addresses the specific flood risks associated with your livestock housing and pasture accessibility. Consider various options such as ensuring safety in enclosed structures, utilizing higher ground for grazing, evacuating to higher elevations, or relocating to local alternatives like auction barns or fairgrounds.
Stay updated on weather conditions and potential flood warnings by regularly checking your local news or downloading a reliable weather app. It is also helpful to sign up for emergency alerts from your local government or FEMA. If a flood warning is issued, follow the instructions given by authorities and evacuate immediately if necessary.
Natural disasters like floods can be devastating, but with proper preparation, you can minimize the damage to your property. Even if you do experience property damage due to a flood, there are things you can do to restore your property after a flood. Remember to always stay informed, have an emergency plan in place, and take necessary precautions to protect your property.
COMING SOON: Environmental risk reports for any U.S. property will soon be available in LandGate’s free property reports and our LandApp tool.