Prevent and Respond to Flooding
Be prepared to deal with flooding in your area by following these suggestions before the storm hits, once flooding has occurred and after the waters recede.
Before the storm
Prevent flooding problems
- Keep storm drains clear of leaves and debris by raking or sweeping materials away from the drains. Drains near street corners and low areas of streets and parking lots are particularly key.
- Dispose of fallen leaves and other yard debris properly – in compost areas, gardens, or take to the landfill.
- Direct downspouts to at least 10 feet away from your home or business and clear gutters of any debris.
- If you’re in an area where flooding is known to occur, keep sandbags on hand and put valuables in a safe place.
- Make sure your insurance policy covers flooding.
Prepare for flooding with family members or business associates.
- Figure out the safest route from your home or business to safe ground. You may have to leave in a hurry so make sure everyone understands the plan and agree on a meeting point just in case people get separated. Don’t forget about your pets.
- List all valuables in your home or business, including all personal property. Keep the list in a safe location.
- Put supplies of canned food and drinking water, medicine, and first aid supplies in a safe and accessible place, away from flood waters. Include flashlights, radio, extra batteries and cooking equipment.
- Fill up your gas tank. Keep food, water, flashlights and medications in your car.
- If you have lawn furniture or other items outside your home or business, put them inside.
When the water begins to rise
- Monitor radio and TV stations or the National Weather Service for updates, particularly for your area.
- If local officials advise evacuation, then evacuate quickly and safely. You may be directed to go to a specific location. Please follow instructions.
- If water begins to rise around your home, evacuate to higher ground or a shelter, even if officials have not advised evacuation.
- As you travel, watch for washed-out roads, areas where streams or rivers may be flooding the area, and for downed power lines. Also assess low areas, such as dips in the roadway, or areas below water level. Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and drive another way.
After the flood
- Drinking water can become contaminated by material carried by the flood to wells, and clean up is important to prevent illness from mold and mildew.
- The Health Department recommends that anyone using water from a well in a flooded area should disinfect the water by heating it to a rolling boil for three to five minutes, then let cool before drinking. Water used for brushing teeth, washing dishes, or food requires the same treatment as drinking water. An alternative method of disinfection is to place eight drops of household liquid bleach into a gallon of water if the water is clear, or 16 drops of household liquid bleach into a gallon of water if the water is cloudy. After adding the bleach to the water, let the mixture stand for 30 minutes. Otherwise, bottled drinking water should be purchased from a local market.
- Once the flooding has receded, chlorination and flushing of the well is recommended. If you decide to test your water for the presence of bacteria, the testing should be done by a certified laboratory to determine if bacteria levels are safe for human consumption.
- Also after the floods, check for moisture on walls, floors, carpets and furniture. The dampness can support mold and mildew, which may cause asthma and other problems. To prevent mold growth, remove as much moisture as possible immediately after a flood. Dry the inside of your home by opening windows and doors and warming the house at least 15 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Mop up any standing water from floors. If furniture, clothing and other items have been dampened by floodwaters, remove them.
- Hand washing is important during clean up to prevent illness. Wash your hands frequently even if you wear gloves. When the only water for available is contaminated, wash your hands with soap and water and then use an antibacterial hand sanitizer.
- Protect yourself during clean up by wearing gloves and boots. Check with your medical provider to be sure your tetanus vaccine is up-to-date. A booster is needed every 10 years.
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