April showers bring May flowers. But, more often than not those showers, combined with snowmelt from warming temperatures, can increase risks for flooding.
Floods are the most common natural disaster worldwide. They can occur from excessive rain or snowmelt, tropical storms, blocked waterways or even breakage of levees, dams or sewer systems. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage to your public entity.
Be Aware: Know your flood risk; is your community prone to flooding? Check out the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood maps to find out.
When floods occur, they not only impact the infrastructure of the area such as buildings, power, transportation and more but they also create a severe risk for those in the vicinity. In 2015, floods claimed the lives of almost 200 people in the United States. Whether or not your public entity is in a high risk area, it is important to be prepared in the event a flood does occur.
Develop a Plan:
- Weather Conditions: Set up notifications to receive timely information about weather conditions. Consider text or email alerts.
- You can sign up here for alerts when a stream is rising to flood level. Consider having an office administrator sign up for these notifications so they can inform staff if evacuating the building and area is necessary.
- Think about how you and your staff will stay informed in case of a power outage.
- Extra batteries for a radio are a great idea.
- Protect your Property & Manage your Risk:
- Purchase flood insurance for all properties, even if they are not located in high risk flood locations.
- If your property is prone to flooding, ensure the heating system, water heater and electrical panel are elevated out of harm’s way.
- Work with your maintenance staff to have check valves installed.
- Have your maintenance staff ensure all gutters and drains are debris free to prevent water build-up.
- If your buildings are located in an area that floods frequently, consider having emergency materials on hand such as plywood, lumber, nails, hammers, sandbags and more.
Communication: Help ensure your community is prepared too!
- Share the above tips with your community by:
- Publishing a special section in the local newspaper.
- The above tips may help community members protect their houses from severe damage during a flood.
- Inform the community of the local warning systems that are in place. They may choose to sign up for the same notification systems listed above.
- Alert the community when severe weather is on the move by:
- Setting up a local alert system for the community via text, email and local TV and radio stations.
- Publish emergency evacuation routes to ensure everyone can leave the area calmly and safely if necessary.
By following the above tips, you can effectively reduce the risk floods create. By developing notification systems and publishing evacuation routes for not only you and your staff but also the community, chaos will be minimized and we can be prepared for whenever disaster strikes next.
America’s PrepareAthon: As a public entity, it is your responsibility to ensure your community is safe and prepared. America’s PrepareAthon is a nationwide campaign to increase emergency preparedness. The campaign includes guides, communication tools, posters and much more! Consider joining.
FEMA: FEMA is also a great resource. Check out their flood page for resources including their guide on “How to Prepare for a Flood.”