Preparing for a flood disaster

May 2, 2011

According to, floods are the #1 most common natural disaster in the United States. In the past ten yeas, the National Flood Insurance Plan has paid out nearly $30 billion in claims as a result of flooding, with an average claim of about $50,000. While many people think that they are in the clear because they are not in a high risk area, FloodSmart notes that 24.4% of National Flood Insurance Plan claims are filed in moderate-to-low-risk areas, which is why it is essential to be prepared for a flood situation, regardless of your level of risk. Even if you think you're not at risk, it's not difficult to find accounts of flooding across Massachusetts, like the spring flood that affected Massachusetts a year ago. 25% of all businesses that close during a flood never re-open their doors, because of inability to deal with post-flood expenses. Don't let your business be one of those 25%, and don't let a flood ruin your personal or business life! Take a look at some of our tips in order to prepare yourself for a flood.
When do floods happen?
It's important to note that floods don't simply happen because of excessive rain. There are a multitude of other factors that contribute to flooding. Take a look at FloodSmart's website to see what sorts of conditions cause flooding. For Massachusetts residents, take note of heavy rain and snowmelt. Also keep in mind that many areas around Cape Cod are very close to sea-level and that tidal surges combined with heavy rain can cause major flooding.
Preparing for a flood
First, ensure that you have appropriate flood coverage. Remember, flood damage is not included in homeowner's insurance! Next, learn your flood terms. For example, recognize that a flood watch means a flood is possible, while a flood warning means a flood is in progress, or will happen soon. When you think flooding is possible due to extreme weather, keep up-to-date with the weather, or check NOAA's website for flood information. Ensure that you know where to turn off utilities in case of flooding. Put together a kit with bottled water, food, clothes, flashlights, a whistle, and other essentials. Ensure that your house is built with proper safety standards; take a look at FEMA's guidelines to get an idea of what you should be looking for.
During a flood
Preceding or during a flood, make sure to secure outside furniture. Turn off your utilities if instructed to do so, and avoid leaving your house, unless instructed to evacuate. Avoid walking or driving during a flood, as moving water can sweep pedestrians off their feet. Keep in mind that six inches of water is enough to stall many vehicles, one foot of water will float many vehicles, and two feet of rushing water can carry many vehicles, including SUVs.
After a flood
Remember that tap water may have been contaminated; listen to local reports to learn if the water is safe for drinking. Avoid floodwaters, as they may contain contaminants, such as gasoline. Remember that structures and roads may have been compromised from floodwaters; use caution when driving or approaching structures and roads where floodwaters have receded. Stay away from downed power lines and report them to your electric company. Service damaged septic tanks, and clean and disinfect items affected by floodwaters, as they may have been contaminated by floodwaters. If you experienced major damage due to flooding, read FEMA's information on coping with flood damage.
Call today if you need to report a claim, or if you would like to learn about flood insurance, at 508-540-2400.