Dangers Of Living Near A Flood Plain: How to Prevent Water Damage if You Live in a Floodplain
Floodplains are areas immediately adjacent to a large body of water, however, some floodplains may be many miles away from a lake or river. Some homeowners are unaware that they live in floodplains. Flooding is most often the result of heavy downpours, clogged sewer systems, or broken dams and levees. Floodplain residents are at increased risk of flooding due to their proximity to rivers and streams.
What is a Floodplain
Floodplains are an area that is near a river, stream, or a body of water fed by streams, rivers, or underground springs. Also written as flood plain, floodplains are typically close to the banks of the river and experience flooding during periods of high water flow.
Flood plains are often level with or even below the banks of the river, which aids in water spreading beyond the banks of the river. Floods are most common during spring due to heavy rains and winter thaws, but flooding along floodplains can happen any time there is a higher than usual amount of water.
New Orleans, LA is one of the most notorious floodplains in the country. Most of the city is below sea level and only protected by levees and sea walls. Slightly less well know are the floodplains throughout Texas, including San Marcos, TX, Denton, TX, and Sugar Land, TX.
Do I Live in a Floodplain
A common question is whether you live in a floodplain. Typically, it’s safe to assume you live in a floodplain if your home is within 500 feet of a river or stream. You may also live in a floodplain if you live near the banks of a pond, lake, or another body of water that is fed by a river or stream.
Also, it’s important that the banks and the surrounding area are at the same level or lower than the level of the body of water. This increases the chances that water will overflow the banks and cause flooding to the surrounding area.
If you don’t know if you live in a floodplain, use the FEMA Flood Map Service Center to determine the potential for floodplain flooding in your area.
The Dangers Of Floodplains
There are several dangers associated with living in a floodplain. Even if you have never experienced flooding or flood damage, floods are extremely likely in floodplains. In fact, floods are one of the most costly and dangerous natural disasters. Even outside of flood plains, floods strike every state.
Floods cause more fatalities than any other natural disaster, usually because people underestimate the force associated with flood waters. Flooding often causes extensive water damage to homes and businesses in floodplains.
Since floodplains are usually low-lying areas level with or lower than the banks of the body of water. This increases the chances of flooding or water damage. It can take hours or even days for flood waters to subside. In extremely rare cases, it can take weeks or even months for water levels to return to normal.
What to do if You Have Water Damage in a Floodplain
Remain Safe During Flood Damage Cleanup
If you live in a floodplain and have water damage or flood damage, the first step is to stay safe. Flood waters can move extremely quickly. It only takes a few inches to sweep away a fully grown adult and less than a foot of water to move a vehicle. If you are inside your property, move to the highest level possible. If you are outdoors or driving, seek high ground.
Once the worst of the flooding has passed, inspect your property for damage. Be cautious around water and electricity and avoid entering areas where water is near or above electrical outlets. If necessary, shut off the electricity to that portion of your property. Contact the utility company if you cannot reach your electrical box without walking through standing water.
Remove Standing Floodwaters
If you have standing water, you can use a wet/dry vacuum to remove water less than a few inches. Make sure you empty the vacuum regularly, pouring the water away from your home and never down your drain. If the floodwaters are more than a few inches, use either a bucket to bail out the water or a pump. You can usually rent a pump from your local equipment supply company.
Dry Out the Affected Area
After removing the standing water, begin drying the area as soon as possible. Use fans and dehumidifiers to speed up drying times and limit the potential for mold problems. Check your equipment regularly and reposition items for the most efficient airflow. Consumer grade fans and dehumidifiers will work, but they will take significantly longer to dry out materials than commercial grade equipment. You can often rent professional gear from your local equipment rental store.
Repair or Replace Damaged Materials
Depending on the extent of the flooding, you may need to repair or replace certain materials. Wood, drywall, carpeting, and cabinets are all susceptible to water damage. This may result in them needing to be refinished or replaced. Additionally, you will want to survey your personal items for damage.
Disinfect the Area
Finally, use a disinfecting agent to treat against mold, bacteria, and parasites commonly found in floodwaters. A solution of bleach and water will work, but it’s recommended you use a hospital grade disinfectant. The most effective way to disinfect the area is with a sprayer. Dilute the disinfectant according to the manufacturers’ instructions and thoroughly spray the entire area. You should also wipe down all personal items with a disinfectant as well.
Professional Water Damage Restoration After Flooding in Floodplains
If you live in a floodplain and have water damage, Restoration Local can help dry you out and restore your life. We are the largest network of restoration companies and have listings for water damage companies near you. The Restoration Local network includes both major franchises like Rainbow International, Restoration 1, and Stanley Steemer as well as independent restoration companies. Find your local water damage contractor now or call 1-888-443-3110 to speak with the emergency contractor in your area. Our on-call emergency water damage companies always offer 24-hour service, 30-minute response time, and a free estimate on all water damage restoration services.