With nearly 90 percent of all US national disasters connected to flooding, it’s easy to see how important it is to prepare for potential destruction. Floods impact all fifty states, both coastal and inland areas, and they can impact areas of both low and high elevation.
Homeowners are often ill-prepared to handle the devastating effects of flooding and the damage it can do to homes and personal property. Only twelve percent of US homeowners carry flood insurance, which is not covered with a standard homeowner’s insurance policy. This sobering statistic reveals just how unprepared most of us are when it comes to bracing for a natural disaster that is out of our control. Are there steps we can take to minimize damage and ensure the safety of our loved ones, even when so many other factors are unknown? Taking a few simple yet proactive steps will help you to prepare for any storm and its aftermath, and while you may experience some losses, you’ll be able to protect yourself and your loved ones from more catastrophic injury and loss. Read on to see how you can prepare for potential high waters ahead.
1. Take Safety Measures with Your Existing Home
If you live in an area that is historically prone to flooding, consider leaving the basement and lower floors largely unfinished. Minimize the use of carpet and upholstery throughout and move all valuables and cherished family heirlooms to upper floors to protect them from water damage.
Raise your fixtures such as a water heater, furnace, washer, dryer, and all electrical wiring onto concrete blocks, above the known base flood elevation, if possible. Consider the use of a floodwall or shield if you cannot alter these structures inside your home.
Install flood shields and barriers for basement doors and windows. Tops of both shields and barriers should also extend above the base flood elevation levels for your area.
Keep sewer lines from backing up into your home by installing backflow valves, and make sure that your sump pump is correctly installed and ready to handle additional flow if necessary.
Consider the use of landscaping using native plants that are adept at resisting erosion. Some ideal plants for this type of protection include:
- Ground covers (autumn sage, ivy, vinca, and phlox)
- Shrubs (apache plume, wild lilac, and buckwheat)
- Trees (California oaks, flowering dogwoods, and pine)
Hire a professional land surveyor to conduct a full survey of your property, complete with topography. With this document, you can determine where the best location might be for the fortification of your property.
2. Considering New Construction?
Do your due diligence when it comes to purchasing and building property in a known flood zone. Use flood-resistant materials when constructing your home, and if possible, choose a location that has not seen consistent damage due to flooding. Some building materials to consider include:
Concrete is significantly stronger than other types of building materials. It can be covered with stucco or siding for a more polished look, and it can withstand the elements much better than most other homes can. Unlike wood-framed houses, concrete is non-combustible, so it will not be susceptible to damage from fires that are likely to erupt soon after flooding.
Steel, like concrete, is an exceptionally strong material. Steel-framed buildings can take the onslaught of heavy rains, strong winds, and occasional flooding if they are constructed well. If a steel-framed house does incur damage due to flooding, it can be restored much more easily than its wooden counterpart, which tends to soak up water and soften almost immediately.
3. Prepare the Family
If you know you’ll soon be dealing with catastrophic storms and possible flooding, the most important thing you must do is to prepare your loved ones for shelter in place and a possible evacuation. Assembling vital supplies in a “go” bag for each family member will ensure that you have what you need, no matter where you need to go in the event of an emergency. Depending on your unique situation, you may need:
- Multiple changes of clothing
- Bedding and pillows
- Canned food, bottled water
- Phones and charging cords
- Items of comfort for pets and young family members
- First aid kits, needed medications
- Personal care items
- Care items for pets
Have as much of this pre-packed as you possibly can, and make sure each family member knows his/her role in gathering supplies for movement within your property or to a safe location. If you must craft an evacuation plan, do so ahead of time, and make sure you determine a meet-up location in case you become separated. In cases where minutes matter and seconds can spare a life, there’s no such thing as “too prepared”.
Procure Insurance on Your Home and Personal Property
One of the most important things you can do to protect your home and family in times of devastation is to purchase flood insurance. Neptune Flood offers both building property and personal property coverage, and with coverage limits up to nearly $4 million on qualifying property, you know that your needs will be met in your time of greatest need.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of clean-up, and a solid flood insurance policy will help to give you peace of mind that your home and family are protected. Contact us today to see how we can help set you on the road to greater safety and security. Neptune Flood can help you weather any storm!
Original article published April 2019. Updated content and references March 2022.