One of the biggest misconceptions about floods is that they only occur near bodies of water. The truth is, any area can flood if the conditions are right. No matter where you live, you should be prepared for the effects of floods.
What are the Effects Of Floods
Although you may think of most of the effects of floods in terms of damages, that is only one aspect. Aside from the damages of flooding, floods also are responsible for loss of life and soil erosion.
The most common effect of flooding is water damage. Basements and crawl spaces are often the first places to face water damage during flooding. However, floodwaters can damage any portion of your home in extreme cases. Water can damage the structure of your home, including drywall, carpeting, and cabinets as well as ruin furniture and personal items. Depending on the situation, flooding may also cause sewage backups. This increases the risk to your family and pets.
Loss of Life
While not a pleasant through, flooding is also likely to take lives. Although this is most common when people try to walk or drive through floodwaters, but it can happen within your home as well. Avoid sleeping below ground, especially during severe storms and stay alert if a flood alert is issued. Never walk or drive through a flood, even if it looks safe. If you are in a car during a flood, pull over and wait for the storm to pass.
Although rarely considered, soil erosion is one of the common effects of floods. Floodwaters will saturate the soil and carry away loose material. In most cases, this slowly wears away at the soil around your foundation. This increases the chances of groundwater flooding in the future. In rare cases, this can even cause your home to shift and result in structural damage or instability. Depending on the conditions, this can even result in sinkholes and mudslides.
The Unpredictable Effects of Flooding Across the County
Unfortunately, floods are extremely unpredictable and can happen anywhere across the country. Here are just a few of the most severe floods in the last decade.
2009 Southern Floods
Severe storms brought heavy rainfall and flooding to Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee between September 15th and 23rd, 2009. Atlanta, Georgia was hit especially hard, getting more than 10 inches of rain. In addition to millions in damages, 10 people lost their lives due to the devastating floods.
2014 Southeastern Michigan Flood
Detroit, Michigan faced historic flooding after a rainstorm on August 11, 2014 brought nearly 5 inches of rain in just a few hours. In addition to flooding many homes, it left highways through the area flooded, completely washing out the interchange between Interstate 75 and Interstate 696.
2014 Southwest Floods
Unprecedented rainfall associated with the remnants of Hurricane Norbert left much of Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada underwater in September 2015. Phoenix recording more than 3 inches of rain in a seven-hour period, while rainfall peaked near Chandler at more than 6 inches. Floods in New Mexico washed out Highway 152, leaving it closed for more than a month. Portions of Interstate 15 in Nevada were flooded, with Las Vegas seeing some of it’s heaviest rainfall totals in years.
2016 Houston Flood
An especially severe storm brought over a foot of rain fell in a 24 hour period to Houston, Texas and the surrounding area in April 2016. This was the second year in a row that Houston would face flooding. Hurricane Harvey would cause extensive flooding again in 2017 and there were more floods in Houston in 2019.
2017 California Floods
Despite California’s extreme drought conditions over much of the last decade, heavy rainfalls brought significant flooding across the state in early-2017. Starting in San Francisco and San Jose, flooding moved down the coast, eventually impacting Los Angeles and Santa Barbara.
2018 Maryland Floods
The Ellicott City area of Baltimore, Maryland was hit with at least 6 inches of rain in just two hours when a severe thunderstorm moved across the state on May 27, 2018. A flash flood nearly 10 feet deep swept away cars and completely washed out roads. The same area had serve flooding in 2016. Both the 2016 and 2018 storms caused significant flooding across Maryland as well.
Preparing for the Effects of Floods
No matter where you live, you need to prepare for flood season and the effects of flooding.
- Check Your Basement or Crawlspace – Inspect your basement and crawlspaces at least once a month for damage and make repairs immediately. This will prevent water issues during severe storms.
- Properly Store Items In Basements and Crawlspaces – Store items in water-resistant containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent damage during a flood. When possible, keep items off the floor as well.
- Perform Regular Sump Pump Maintenance – If you have a sump pump, perform regular maintenance to ensure it works when you need it. Consider adding a backup if you don’t have one.
- Use Your Drains Properly – Using your drains correctly will prevent clogs and backups that could lead to sewage backups during flooding. Avoid putting food waste, fats, and coffee grounds down sink drains. Use hair catches to prevent sink and tub drains from getting clogged. Only flush waste and toilet paper down toilets.
- Check Your Landscaping – Landscaping will hold water near your foundation, so keep trees and bushes at least 3 feet away. Also, prune trees regularly to prevent limbs or branches from falling and damaging your roof during storms or high winds.
- Clean Your Gutters and Downspouts – Clean your gutters and downspouts at least twice a year to ensure rainwater can flow away from your home. This prevents water from pooling around your foundation during a storm.
- Inspect the Drainage Around Your Foundation – Check around your foundation and make sure water flows away and not towards it. If necessary add soil or install another drainage option.
- Review Your Insurance Policy – Regardless of where you live, review your homeowners’ insurance policy at least once a year so you are aware of your cover. Call your agent if you have questions.
- Consider Adding Separate Flood Insurance – If you live in an area prone to flooding, consider adding separate flood insurance to ensure you are covered.
- Prepare an Evacuation Plan – If you live in areas prone to hurricanes, severe or flash flooding, or have had a severe flood in the last decade, consider making a flood evacuation plan.
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