Flood Risk Planning and Preparedness

5 Tips on How to Prepare for a Flood

If you live in an area where it often rains, your home may be at risk for flooding. Heavy rains can cause water to accumulate or rivers and streams to swell. Although flooding usually develops over the course of a few days, sometimes a flash flood can develop in a span of hours. Flooding is dangerous – killing and injuring hundreds of people each year. Just a few inches of flood water can also cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Here are some flood insurance and preparedness guidelines to help protect you, your loved ones and your property from floods.

Protect your family and home

  1. Prepare yourself and your loved ones. If you or your family is affected by a flood, make sure you have an emergency kit with a flashlight and radio as well as a communications plan in case you are separated. For more immediate detailed information about what to do in case of a flood warning, review our Flood Safety Action Guide.

  2. Get the right kind of insurance. Flood coverage is NOT part of a standard home insurance policy; it's actually a completely separate, additional policy. Because home insurance companies do not offer flood insurance, only property owners with flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program can file flood insurance claims. If you do not currently have flood insurance, but you are concerned about your risk of flood damage, learn more about purchasing flood insurance at www.floodsmart.gov.

    If you own property in a low-lying area prone to flooding, such as near a beach, lake or river, or you live in a flood plain, some mortgage lenders may require this coverage. Check with your lender to see if flood insurance is required under the terms of your loan.

    When choosing your flood coverage, consider the reconstruction cost of your home from the interior to the exterior, foundations to the roof, plus the cost to replace all of your possessions.

  3. Understand flood maps. As the first and most important priority, know the risk associated with the location of your home. According to FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program one in four, or 25%, of flood insurance claims are filed by people who do not live in high-risk flood areas. People in these low-to-moderate risk areas also receive a third of Federal Disaster Assistance for flooding. Flood insurance claims average $4 billion per year. However, if you are in a high risk area, find out about the nearest levees or floodwalls. These man-made barriers defend against rising water levels. A levee is typically made of earth, whereas floodwalls are made of concrete or masonry and up to four feet high. Consult the FEMA Map Service Center to find out more.

  4. Fortify your home, protect your family from flooding.

    Wet floodproofing. A method sometimes used in homes that are on or very close to a beach, this process allows flood waters into and through uninhabited parts of your home in order to equalize pressure on the other parts of the housing frame. It's important to note that this method is not guaranteed to protect your home, it's merely a measure to strengthen your house against fast-moving flood water. Check with a local contractor for an estimate.

    Dry floodproofing. This process changes a structure to help make it water tight. This requires using waterproof coatings to seal walls, and may include installing removable shields in windows and doors, and fitting sewer lines and drains with backflow valves, floor drain plugs, or grinder pumps. For a more basic modification, some homeowners simply seal the walls of the basement and ground levels of their home. Look to a local contractor for more in-depth advice.

    Elevate appliances. Heavy appliances like washers and dryers should be raised at least 12 inches higher than possible water levels. Masonry work or pressure-treated lumber are typically used to elevate these items. Otherwise, simply move them upstairs.

  5. Contact your insurer.

    Give us a call. If you do experience flooding, touch base with your flood insurance provider as soon as you can. Have your policy number ready to make it easier to start the claim process.

    Take pictures. If you or your family is affected by a flood, the very best thing you could do is have before and after photos of your dwelling on hand. This kind of evidence gives insurance adjusters an idea of what was lost, and then helps them handle your claim more efficiently. Don't wait to take pictures until it's too late!

Flooding is a serious phenomenon. Even if you're skeptical of the likelihood of a flood in your area, planning ahead to have the proper flood insurance coverage can help protect your home tomorrow.