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In the Zone or Out: How to Prepare for a Flood

November 17, 2017 Ashley Purcella

property coverage

It’s raining, it’s pouring, the flood alarms are roaring! Some districts find themselves in the dilemma of dealing with an immediate flood risk without a plan. Unfortunately, when a flood is at your door, it’s too late to form a plan of action other than wait for it to subside and clean-up the aftermath.

Determining your risk

The first step in preparing for a potential flood is to find out if your property is located in a flood plain, which is the term commonly used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for identifying areas that have a tendency to flood. Flood plain information can be found at the county’s appraisal district or by using the FEMA Flood Map Service Center. Simply enter an address, place, or coordinates of a property to view detailed information.

Establishing whether the property is located in a flood plain will determine what emergency action plan you should take. However, just because a property is located in an area that is not known to flood, does not eliminate the risk of being susceptible to a flood. Due to property development and changing environmental factors, an area that is not known to flood can become vulnerable to flooding. 

In the flood zone

After you have determined if your property is vulnerable to flooding, it’s time to prepare a plan of action to reduce the effects of flood damage. If your district is located in a flood plain, FEMA has developed a checklist (Agency, 2009) of recommended actions:

  • 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 the drains of your buildings
  • Contact community officials to find out if they are planning to construct barriers (levees, beams, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering the buildings in your area
  • Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage

Not zoned, but just in case

If your district is not located in an area susceptible to flooding, it is advised to develop a plan of action for a “just in case” scenario. Flooding should be part of your district’s emergency operations plan. This action list is recommended for susceptible and non-susceptible districts: 

  • Develop a calling tree with names of responsible persons and their duties
  • Appoint an incident commander that will implement the action plan
  • Appoint a person to watch developing weather situations and report to the incident commander
  • Develop a team that will report to the scene if necessary
  • Appoint someone or multiple persons to take pictures after the flood has occurred (your property coverage adjusters will also take pictures)
  • Assign a clean-up crew 

These are just a few instructions on how to prepare for an emergency flooding situation. It is always better to be prepared than not and suffer a loss of property. Be sure to read the Flood Endorsement on your coverage agreement for more information.

Editor's note: This article was originally published in March 2010 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Tagged: flood, "severe weather"