Floods are the most widespread of all weather-related natural disasters in the U.S., according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Flooding caused billions of dollars of damage across the country in 2017, yet many Americans don’t have flood insurance.
Floods can happen anywhere, even in low- or moderate-risk flood zones. Some of the homes damaged by floodwaters brought on by Hurricane Harvey were considered to be in a minimal-risk flood hazard area.
Many people are not aware that homeowners insurance does not cover floods. Taking a few simple precautions today can minimize impacts and help keep you and your loved ones physically and financially safer.
- Floods happen in all 50 states.
- Areas vulnerable to flooding include:
- rivers, streams and other bodies of water
- storm drains
- recent burn areas
- new construction areas
- urban environments with lots of pavement
- Dam failures and snowmelt can also cause flooding.
- Consider purchasing flood insurance if you are at risk. Talk to your insurance agent, and visit floodsmart.gov for more information.
- Avoid driving in floodwater. Flooding causes more deaths than any other storm-related event. Many of those deaths occur in vehicles. As little as 12 inches of moving water can sweep most vehicles off the road.
- Head to higher ground. If you have to evacuate, be cautious in floodwater. Avoid stepping into moving water and use a broom handle or stick to test water depth. Six inches of water can knock adults off their feet.
- Build an emergency kit for your home, car and work. Include a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, first aid supplies, medications, nonperishable food, a can opener and water. Keep essential electronics charged.
- Create an emergency plan. Talk with your family about where you’ll go in the event of a flood, how you’ll get there and how you will communicate with each other. Don’t forget to plan for pets.
- Shut down safely. Unplug electronics. Know how to turn off your power, gas and water, and, if time permits, shut everything down and move electronics and other valuables to higher ground before evacuating.