Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Prepare for flooding: What I have learned

This is not a great photo but it does show how much water was in our back yard. Notice the window we have sandbagged you can see the water has filled in the window well completely. 

It seems that ever new report, every conversation, and every face book post today is about flooding.  I hope that you are dry.  As I have been thinking about all of the flooding today I thought I would share what I have learned about flooding.  Two years ago our house flooded twice.  And hopefully it will never flood again.
What I have learned about flooding.
My daughter helping with the demolition. 

1. Everyone floods, don’t assume that you won’t assume that you will. Weather you have a rain gutter fail or a water heater break everyone floods.
2.       Prepare, for a small flood, caused by lots of fun off or a swollen creek.   There are a couple of simple things that you can do to help prevent flooding. Remember that your insurance will not cover any damage caused to your home or property caused by water coming into the house from outside.  Even if you have flood insurance and you probably don’t, flood insurance only covers structural damage not contents.
a.       Clean out the rain gutters, spring and fall. 
b.      Have high window wells.  Window wells in many older home (like mine) are flush with the ground.  If you window well is a couple of inches above ground level, you can prevent a lot of water from getting into your house.
c.       Use down spout extenders, and use them properly.  These are plastic tubes that hook onto the ends of your downspouts. They are direct the water away from your house and window wells.  Make sure they are extended and funneling the water well away from your house.
d.      Be aware of bodies of water near your home.
e.      Understand how your city/neighborhood deals with runoff water.  In my city the runoff water is funneled into the canals.  Not an optimal solution.  When the canals are full the overflow.   Does your city funnel to creeks? Rivers? What happens to runoff water when those areas are full?  Can the flood water in those rivers/creeks flow backwards and flood your neighborhood by coming up the drain? 
f.        Make sure the storm drains near your home are free of debris.  Yes I know the city should do this but they won’t.  2 minutes of removing sticks and leaves can save you from a flood. 
g.       If you are in any danger of flooding sand bag.  We sandbag a couple of feet out from the window wells. 
h.      Have an financial paperwork binder in a fire proof, water proof safe. That is locked (they are not water tight unless locked. 
One of the 3 bedrooms that flooded, after the Sheetrock, insulation, an carpet have been removed

3.        Prepare for a catastrophic flood
a.       Have a 72 hour kit ready and up to date, and easy to grab.
b.      Do NOT store irreplaceable items  in the basement .  Things like photos, wedding dresses, baby books, the quilt your grandma made you, need to be stored where they will not be exposed to water and mud in the event of a flood.  If you would be devastated if it was ruined by water do not store it in the basement  Even if it is in a Rubbermaid tote, on a top shelf.  When we flooded 2 years ago our neighbors flooded too. In about 5 minutes their basement filled with from floor to ceiling.  When you have that much water the lids to totes pop off.   It is a good idea to have a copy of any photo that is special to you stored in an of site location, such as an out of state family members.  This holds true for important documents as well.
c.       Decide in advance when you are going to evacuate.  Do you remember all of those people who did not evacuate from Katrina?  How about all of the people living near the nuclear power plant in Japan that did not get evacuated until they had been exposed to the radiation?   I do, and I don’t want to be one of them.  When there is an emergency in my neighborhood I am evacuating at the first possible sign to it might be necessary.  I can replace my possessions I cannot replace my family members.  The life of my husband and children is worth more to me that my stuff.  We are all evacuating if the authorities are even considering evacuating our area. 
d.        Be ready to evacuate:  If you are given ½ an hour to gather personal items and leave your home. What would you take?  Where is it at?  Most people in an evacuation don’t really take the things they will really need.  Here is what I am taking if I have a few minutes to grab stuff.
                                                               i.      Financial paper work binder
                                                             ii.      Our 72 hour kits
                                                            iii.      My kids comfort objects
                                                           iv.      Our emergency cash (in a lot of emergency the area reverts to a cash only economy)
                                                             v.      Extra clothes—we have some clothes in our 72 hour kits but not enough to last very long. 
                                                           vi.      Address book
                                                          vii.      Lap top  (only because as part of my husband's job, he is responsible for disaster recovery for the computer systems he works on, and if we are evacuating I am sure he will need to work on the disaster recovery computer systems)
                                                        viii.      Camera--I never have all of my photos backed up.  I have most of them but there are always some new ones I haven't gotten to yet.  If I have the camera I have those photos.


  1. I want to start doing this and getting organized as well. I am following you now and will start working on my plan, too! Thanks for the great information!

  2. I love your plan! This spring we had an unexpected bit of flooding in our basement. Turns out the gutters on our house were clogged, and the spill over from that dumped directly into the basement window well. I found a clear plastic window well cover and screwed it in over the culprit, then cleaned the gutters. Fortunately there was very little damage.