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Stay Safe from Spring Floods
April showers bring more than May flowers. They also can bring flooding, which can threaten your life as well as your possessions. The federal government has some advice to help you protect yourself:
Before a Flood Occurs
Understand your risk. In many places, flooding is most common in the spring, when the snowmelt adds more water to the ground and to rivers, streams, creeks and storm sewers. In addition, ice can create blockages, causing water to back up behind them. And spring storms can dump large amounts of water in a very short time. Keep an eye on the forecast.
Check your insurance coverage. You standard homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from flooding, so talk to your insurance agent about whether you should buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program.
At times when the possibility of flooding is exceptionally high – such as when there has been an unusual amount of snow or when strong storms are forecast -- consider raising your belongings off the floor or even moving them to the upper levels of your house.
Check your sump pump or flood control system to ensure that it is working.
Pull together an emergency kit, and discuss your emergency plan with your family members.
If Flooding Is Imminent
Listen to the TV or radio for emergency updates.
Plan for evacuation by mapping a route that avoids low-lying areas and bridges over rivers or streams that might have flash flooding.
If there is time, consider protecting your house with sandbags or similar means.
Contact family members to make sure they are safe and prepared.
Move your valuables as high in the house as possible.
If your home is threatened by floodwaters, turn off the utilities if you can; however, never touch electrical equipment if you are standing in water. Then lock the doors and leave. Go to a shelter or some other safe place.
As you evacuate, do not drive into floodwaters.
After the Flood
Stay off roads and away from flooded areas so you don’t interfere with emergency personnel trying to do their jobs.
Wait to return home until local officials say it is safe to do so.
If your home has sustained significant flooding, take care when you enter it. Flooding can damage homes, especially foundations, and make them unstable.
Stay away from standing water, which might be contaminated by gasoline, sewage or other dangerous things.
Don’t drink water from the tap in a flooded area until local officials say it is safe to do so.
Throw out any food that has been damaged by floodwaters. If your refrigerator has been shut down, throw out any food that has not been kept cold.
Go through your belongings and determine what you can clean and what you must throw out. Be sure to disinfect everything that got wet, even if it looks clean.
Call professionals if you need help with cleaning, mold removal or repairs.
Talk to your insurance professional about whether and how your coverage might apply.