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Is Your Home Prepared for a Flood?

5/12/2011 12:00:00 AM

Tags: flood, FEMA

Robyn Griggs Lawrence thumbnailThis morning my congressman sent me an email warning that snow melt in the mountains is bloating Colorado’s rivers and lakes, causing severe flooding danger. Elsewhere, the Mississippi River is swelling, threatening to cause this nation’s next natural disaster. Flooding is, in fact, the most common natural disaster in the United States, according to FEMA. Every state is at risk.

Is your home ready? Are you?

You can find out if your home is at risk for flood and educate yourself on flooding’s impact using FEMA's Flood Insurance Study, which includes statistical data on river flows, storm tides, hydrologic/hydraulic analyses, and rainfall and topographic surveys to create flood hazard maps.

To prepare for a flood, FEMA suggests making the following changes well before the waters start rising.

  • Elevate the furnace, water heater and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
  • Install 'check valves' in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into your home’s drains.
  • Contact community officials to find out if they plan to construct barriers (levees, beams, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the homes in your area.
  • Seal your basement walls with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.
  • Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting  
  • Prepare an emergency supply kit, including non-perishable food and cooking equipment, drinking water, essential medicines, flashlights, candles, a battery-operated radio, fresh batteries and a first-aid kit

If a flood occurs in your area and you must evacuate, take the following measures.

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items and items that would be damaged by water to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so.
  • Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. Only touch electrical equipment in a dry area or while standing on a piece of dry wood while wearing rubber-soled shoes and rubber gloves.
  • If feasible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home. Dig flood breaks and pile sand bags. You can learn how to use sandbags from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

If your home is flooded, the American Red Cross’s 60-page booklet, “Repairing Your Flooded Home,” can help you with simple home repairs, including cleaning, sanitation, and determining which professionals to involve for various needed services.  

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