Flood Season Preparation Tips for Home and Business

By: Flora Richards-Gustafson

Floods are one of most common natural disasters in the United States. If an area can receive rain, it has the potential to flood. Fortunately, there are steps property owners can take to prepare for the worst.

Observe, Explore and Ascertain:
Knowing the geography of your property is key to preparing for a flood. Are there any bodies of water nearby? What is the elevation? Does your insurance currently cover flood damage? What is the history of floods in your area? Is there a community-wide disaster plan in place should there be a flood?

During the Dry Season:
Beyond building location concerns, here are a few precautionary steps to take to prepare your property:
- In low-lying areas, elevate the furnace, water heater, and electrical panel to avoid the risk of water damage.
- Seal the basement or underground levels of a building with waterproofing material to prevent seepage.
- Clear gutters and downspouts of any debris.
- Look into installing “check valves” in nearby sewer traps to prevent backed-up sewer water from entering your building.
- Sump pumps, which send water away from basements or foundations, may also be a valuable investment when paired with a back-up power source.

Have a Plan
All businesses and homes should have a flood disaster plan. This plan should include important phone numbers such as your insurance agents' office, the insurance claim contact line, important business contact numbers, the contact information of family members, and the phone number of a flood restoration specialist.

Be sure to provide adequate information for caretakers. List where important documents are stored. Include directions on where to locate electrical panels and operation instructions and how to turn off water and gas lines. Note that only professionals should turn these utilities on again.

Make sure everyone is clear on where to meet up should there be an evacuation. Bear in mind which roads are likely to be closed by authorities during a flood.

Store an emergency kit with your written disaster plan. First aid supplies, water, a radio, flashlights, and extra batteries are essential components of this kit. Other things to include are non-perishable foods and a can opener, medicine, rain gear, protective clothing, and sleeping bags. Be sure to consider the special needs of any elderly people, children, babies, or pets.

Just Before the Storm:
Your dry-season preparation will come in handy on the day of the big storm, when you'll only have a few last-minute considerations to keep in mind:
- If a flood warning has been issued for your area, move furniture and valuables to a higher location in the property.
- Ensure the gas tanks of all necessary vehicles are full in case there is an evacuation.
- Anchor any fuel tanks so they do not flow with possible flood currents and cause further damage to your property or the property of others.

Business Continuity
The cleanup process after a flood can be daunting. Fortunately, flood restoration specialists can put business owners' minds at ease. A flood restoration specialist specializes in paper document restoration. They can help dry documents and restore flood-damaged documents, books, and property. Having a way to access or restore information after a disaster can make the difference between getting back on your feet quickly and becoming a tragic statistic of the storm.

~Flora Richards-Gustafson, 2009

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Flood season preparation is a vital part of disaster recovery planning for many small businesses as well as forward-thinking families. I encourage anyone in flood prone areas to talk to flood disaster restoration company, Rapid Refile to help put together a flood disaster plan.

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