Episode 326 S11-3
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When assessing your flood risk, the first step is to analyze your geographical location. Is your home in a low-lying area? How will you get out? How much time will you have to get out before it becomes a critical situation? Does the water have the potential to compromise your home’s stability? Is there anything nearby that could pose a threat? For example, a sewage treatment plant, chemical processing facilities, or dams. Fertilizers, pesticides, city chemicals (like gas, oil, gases, etc.), city waste (urine, garbage, grime) will all mix. Does this contamination pose an immediate threat?
Surplus food and water storage are typically stored in lower-lying areas of a home to reduce heat, light, and oxygen contamination. Will your storage areas be at risk if your home floods? Consider moving storage to higher, climate-controlled spaces in the event of an imminent flooding situation. Use water-tight containers to keep supplies safe, but remember they will get the grimy water on them, and you will have to wash them before breaking the seal. Alternatively, you can store multiple stashes in other areas. Move any stores of firearms and ammo away from the floodwater.
Evacuation may not be possible if you wait too long. Never, ever drive through flood water! Most drownings happen in vehicles. Make sure you have a window breaker on hand with you! Have route upon route, upon route planned to exit. You never know what will get flooded or how congested the roads will be. You should always have an emergency car kit, but it is more critical in a flooding situation than ever. Should you get stuck, you want to have food and water to last for a while.
There are some items you may want to have on hand in case of a flood in your area. Have flotation devices, like a raft, the more supplies you can float out, the better. Have life vests for everyone, especially children or elderly. Waders can allow you to enter the water without exposure to the contaminants in it. A walking stick provides stability and will enable you to check the depth of the water without entering it.
After the flood, assume that shortages of food, water, gasoline, and other essentials will impact your area. Devastated infrastructure will slow shipping. The flood may have destroyed roads and bridges. Also, the flood will impact utilities. Look out for downed power lines and smell for any gas leakages.
Before entering your home, inspect the exterior for damage. Look up and down if anything seems a miss, error on the side of safety. Shut down the power as soon as possible and be aware of any electrical problems before entering. Electricity and water do not mix!
Water causes a lot of damage. Begin drying out your home immediately. While wearing an N95 or better-rated mask, gloves, and boots, remove anything that has gotten wet. Remove all carpet and padding that was exposed to the water. Remove drywall and insulation from right above the water line to the floor. Even drywall behind tubs and cabinets will have to be removed. Metal items like electrical plates could rust once exposed to water. Get rid of them as well.
Once everything is out, wash the wood, concrete, and the rest of the structure with at least one cup of liquid bleach to five cups of water. Keep fans running and wait until it has dried. Then do a smell test. Does it smell like bacteria and mold are present? If so, wash again with the bleach solution. Mold will start growing in as little as two days.
Your insurance will not cover groundwater movement unless you have a flood policy from the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program). Alternatively, Lloyd’s of London sells a flood policy. Damage from rain falling from the sky is covered. For example, if the wind causes a hole in your roof and the rain comes in that way, that is covered. Food loss because of an unexpected power loss is covered. Still, it is subject to your deductible, and often the amount of loss doesn’t exceed the deductible. Remember that policies can vary by state and company. Check with your agent if you have additional questions.
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