Q: What constitutes a “flood”?
A: There are a few types of floods: Coastal, River, Drain/Sewer, Groundwater, and Flash Flooding.
- Coastal flooding is a cause of extreme weather and high tides. Low-lying seaside areas are in the most danger from coastal flooding.
- River flooding is a very common type of inland flooding. It happens when a body of water exceeds the river banks, typically from intense rainfall. This flooding can affect surrounding properties and pose a serious safety threat.
- Drain and Sewer flooding is not always due to extreme weather, though it can be a factor or the cause sometimes. Other times it may be a blockage or failure of the drainage system or an internal problem with the building.
- Groundwater floods take time to transpire. With extended periods of rainfall, the ground becomes waterlogged until it is incapable of absorbing any more. Water then rises above the surface and begins to cause flooding. These floods can last for weeks and even months in some cases.
- Flash floods are a very dangerous form of flooding. Unlike groundwater floods, it happens quickly when the ground cannot absorb water at the speed and amount it’s falling at.
Q: How damaging can a flood be?
A: Floods can be extremely damaging, costing about $6 billion worth of damages in the U.S. alone. They can compromise the structural integrity of your house and destroy the items in it. Flood waters usually contain mud, sewage, bacteria, and toxins, which pose a grave threat. Even after the water has subsided and is gone in your house, mold is likely to occur due to walls, furniture, and other items being soaked.
Q: Where can floods happen?
A: Floods can happen anywhere, even if you’re in a low-risk flood zone. In the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced a flash flood. Some areas are at a higher risk than others.
Q: How can I prepare for a flood?
A: Though having flood insurance is a great start, there are other precautionary methods you can practice helping even further:
- Pay attention to flood alerts. This simple task can help you a lot, giving you time to move furniture and other valuable to a safe place.
- Always have a flood checklist. This should include what to do in case of a flood, items you should have, where you and your family should go, roads to take that are less likely to flood, higher ground locations near your home, and an evacuation plan.
- Waterproofing your basement, though expensive, is worth it. The investment is easily payed off if you live in a frequently flooded area.
- Invest in a sump pump. Sump pumps remove the water that has accumulated. The faster you get rid of the water the greater your chances of preventing damages and mold are. Many new sump pump systems come with a battery backup.
- Elevate your electrical components at least 12 inches above predicted flood levels.
- Anchor and elevate outdoor equipment. Things such as fuel tanks, generators, or air-conditioning units that can be swept away should be anchored and elevated to prevent this.
- Install back-flow valves or plugs. These will prevent flood waters from entering and can stop sewage from entering your home.