Flood Preparedness

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere. Flooding can occur during any season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water, such as a river, stream, or culvert; along a coast; or downstream from a dam or levee.

What Causes Flooding?

Flooding can occur in several ways:

  • Rivers and lakes cannot contain excessive rain or snowmelt
  • Excessive rain or snowmelt cannot be fully absorbed into the ground
  • Waterways are blocked with debris or ice and overflow
  • Water containment systems break, such as levees, dams, or water or sewer systems

The speed and duration of flooding can vary significantly:

  • Flooding can occur slowly as rain continues to fall for many days.  This type of flooding, sometimes called a slow-onset flood, can take a week to develop and can last for months before floodwaters recede.
  • Rapid-onset floods occur more quickly, typically developing within hours or days.  These types of floods usually occur in smaller watersheds experiencing heavy rainfall, particularly in mountainous and urban areas, and the water usually recedes within a few days

Before a Flood

  • Go to Flood Smart to check your property's flood hazard rating.
  • Learn about the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Contact your insurance agent to find out what coverage you have or may need.
  • Develop a family emergency plan (include family pets) and practice your family emergency evacuation routes. Learn which roadways are likely to flood and find an alternate route.
  • Listen to the radio or television for reports of flood danger.
  • If you have access to sandbags or other materials, use them to protect your home from flood waters if you have sufficient time to do so.
  • Help prevent localized flooding by clearing debris from gutters, downspouts and storm drains.
  • Elevate and anchor critical utilities including electrical panels, propane tanks, sockets, wiring, appliances, and heating systems.
  • If your furnace, water heater, washer and dryer are in the basement or flood prone area, place them on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12-inches above the projected flood elevation.
  • Install a water alarm and maintain a working sump pump to protect your basement. Install a battery-operated pump in case of power failure.
  • Elevate or move your furniture and valuables to a safe place such as an attic or highest floor of your home.
  • Take photos of the valuables you keep in your residence.

During a Flood

Flood Warnings

If the City posts a flood warning for your neighborhood, that means flooding will soon occur or is already occurring in that city area. If you are advised to evacuate, please do so immediately. Follow these tips to stay safe:

  • You may be instructed to turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve at your property.
  • If you live in a flood prone area or are camping in a low lying area, get to higher ground immediately.
  • DO NOT attempt to drive through a flooded road. DO NOT drive around a barricade. Roads may be washed out under flood waters. Barricades are positioned to keep you safe. Turn Around, Don't Drown!
  • Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires. Electric current passes easily through water and can be deadly. Stay out of basements or rooms where water is covering electrical outlets and/or submerging cords. If you see sparks or hear buzzing, crackling, snapping or popping noises, get out.
  • It is dangerous to walk through flooded areas. As little as six inches of moving water can knock over an adult! Most flood fatalities occur in vehicles - only twelve inches can carry away a small vehicle.
  • Floodwaters may be contaminated with raw sewage, chemical waste and other disease-spreading substances. If you've come in contact with floodwaters, wash your hands with soap and disinfected water.


After a Flood

Take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones during your cleanup after a flood. 

  • Only go home when authorities say it is safe.
  • Learn how to safely reenter your flooded home.
  • Have a professional check your heating, electrical panel, outlets, and appliances for safety before you use them.
  • Pump out flooded areas gradually to avoid structural damage.
  • Document your losses. Photograph damages and record repair costs. Contact your insurance agent.
  • Throw away unsafe food.
  • Use generators and other electrical equipment safely.
  • Dry out your residence to prevent mold. Never use gas or propane powered dryers in enclosed areas - carbon monoxide poisoning can occur.