Flood Preparation Primer
Severe weather season 2012 is officially underway, and hurricane season is just around the corner, both of which mean that the chances for severe weather are significantly increased, and this means an abundance of rain, hail, wind, and of course, the increased risk of flooding. Floods commonly accompany cases of severe weather and can cause enormous damage to life and property within a matter of hours or even minutes. The last thing you want as a property owner is to be caught unaware or unprepared. So without becoming overly paranoid, how do you prepare yourself and secure your property against the threat of flooding and water damage?
First off, determine your flood risk. This can be done through your local emergency management office and is best executed by examining past weather and flooding patterns. Knowing what has gone on before in your area will give you an idea of how much flooding you may expect in the future. Use this information to plan your strategy.
Obviously, the most important items in your home should be secured first. Any important documents, such as financial, health, school, insurance, and family information should be gathered together and kept in a safe place, preferably a higher floor, out of reach of flood waters. You can also pack it to go with you in the event of an evacuation. Evacuations need to be ruthlessly efficient, meaning you take only what is needed to assure provision for you and your family during an extended stay away from home.
Most every home now is equipped with a computer, and much of our important information is stored as files. These need to be backed up, preferably to an offsite backup service which ensures your files are protected even if your computer crashes, but at the very least they should be backed up to an external hard drive. Take this drive with you in the event of an evacuation. Computers are commonly damaged or destroyed as the result of flooding.
Homes that are flooded while electricity and gas are still active become extremely dangerous when it comes to returning home and beginning water damage repair and restoration. The last thing you should do on your way out the door is to shut off these utilities at their source. The main electrical disconnect is at the service panel and may be thrown manually. The gas is more involved, requiring the use of a wrench to turn the metal projection on the valve near the meter. The projection should be turned 90 degree clockwise or counterclockwise, whichever is easier. Remember that utilities will have to be turned back on by their respective companies.
Lastly, consider anything and everything that might create a mess as a result of flooding, and move it to a higher floor. The more you can do to cut down on the water damage left behind after a flood, the easier the cleanup will be (or at least as easy as it can be, given the circumstances).
Finally, contact your local flood and water damage professionals to come and begin the restoration process. They are trained on proper procedures for getting the water out of your home and cleaning everything up, allowing you to return to life as normal as soon as possible.