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Flooding is caused by heavy rains and storm surge, particularly that associated with a hurricane. Most coastal damage caused by hurricanes is the result of flooding from giant waves driven by the hurricane winds. Know what to do in such an emergency.
Obtain flood insurance (Homeowners insurance does not cover floods from natural disasters).
Floods cause more damage nationwide than any other natural disaster. If you live in a flood-prone area, be smart. Protect yourself and your family from the consequences of a flood disaster.
Before a Flood
Purchase Flood Insurance
If the community that you live in has joined the National Flood Insurance Program with a pledge to adopt flood plain management measures, you will be eligible to apply for it. Only a 5-day wait is required for your flood insurance policy to become effective. Renters can buy policies to protect their personal property against possible flood damage, too.
A federal program, the National Flood Insurance Program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), makes this possible. A simple call to your insurance agent or broker starts the process to cover your home, possessions, and business. Your agent or broker will help you decide how much coverage you need.
Make A Personal Property Inventory
Make a list of your personal property. Document the contents of your home with still photographs or video. Keep this documentation, along with your policy, in a safe place — preferably a safe deposit box. It is a good idea to keep other important papers (mortgage, stock certificates, etc.) in the safe deposit too, as these documents could be destroyed during a flood.
Plan A Safe Escape Route
Determine where flood zones have been designated in your community. Avoid these flood zones during storm emergencies. If your home is located within a flood zone, plan a safe evacuation route. More information about the potential for inland flooding for Brunswick County is available at Brunswick County Planning Department.
If A Flood Occurs
Monitor Flood Reports
Keep your battery-powered radio tuned to a local station, heed warnings, and follow instructions. Remain calm
If Evacuation Is Necessary
If you are told to evacuate, promptly move out of the house or building to safe, higher ground.
Remember the following tips:
- Avoid already flooded areas. Floods are deceptive. The situation could be more dangerous that you perceive.
- Never drive where water is over roads. Under those flood waters, the road might already be washed away, and rapidly-rising water could lift the car and carry it away.
- Be especially careful driving at night, when flood dangers are difficult to see. If, by mistake, you find yourself driving in water and the car stalls, immediately get out of the car and carefully climb to higher ground.
- Never walk through water that is higher than your knees.
- If you are caught in the house by suddenly rising flood waters, move to a higher level of your house — if necessary, to the roof. Take warm clothing, a flashlight, battery-powered radio, and extra (fresh) batteries with you. Even better, have a backpack with emergency supplies ready at all times. DO NOT try to swim to safety. Wait for help. Rescue teams will be looking for you.
“Turn Around, Don’t Drown!”
Turn Off Utilities
IF TIME PERMITS, turn off all utilities (gas, water, electric, cable) at the main switch. Do not touch any electrical equipment that is in a wet area. If possible, first consult an electrician as to what to do. If unable to do so, place a piece of dry wood nearby on which to stand. Put on rubber footwear and gloves to ground yourself.
Open Basement Windows
IF TIME PERMITS, open basement windows to equalize water pressure on the foundation and walls.
Move Valuables To Higher Ground
IF TIME PERMITS, move valuables to the highest level of your house. Place small valuables, or important papers, in waterproof containers or zip-lock bags. Write your name and contact phone number on the containers, in case they are separated from your home.
After a Flood
Call Your Insurance Company
If your home or business has been damaged, immediately notify your flood insurance carrier. The agent will submit a loss form, and an adjuster will be assigned to inspect your property. Have your policy and personal inventory (with support documentation) handy to facilitate your claim. Remember, the most serious cases will be handled first.
Safely Return To Your Home
When local officials deem it safe to return to your home, do so cautiously. Roadways might be washed out, and there is likely to be much debris in the area. Before entering your house, inspect the outside for structural damage. Do not enter a house that you suspect could collapse.
Avoid Dangers Within The House
Upon entering your house, DO NOT strike a match or use a flame of any kind. Escaping gas could cause a tragic explosion. Watch for live electrical wires. Be sure that electric current is turned off at the fuse box or breaker box. (Do not stand in water to turn off electric.) Do not attempt to operate electrical appliances until an electrician can determine that it is safe to do so.
Create Ventilation In House
Open windows and doors to let air circulate through the building. This will help dry out the house, let foul odors escape, and protect you from escaping gas.
Thoroughly Document Your Damage
Take still photographs or video of your house (inside and out) and your personal property. If you do not have a camera available, try to borrow one from a neighbor. This documentation will help the adjuster determine your loss. (Furthermore, the information might prove helpful for applicable tax deductions.)
Throw out all perishable foods. Refrigerated foods will spoil after only a few hours without electricity. Frozen foods will last only about 48 hours, without electricity. Do not refreeze thawed foods. Clean appliances and furniture of dirt and debris. Do not discard items that you believe are destroyed until an insurance adjuster has inspected them.
Pump Out Basement
Pump out the basement, if it is flooded, but do it gradually. Drain 1/3 of the flood water each day to minimize further structure damage. Shovel out the mud while it is still moist. Dry drapery, rugs, and carpets thoroughly.
Make Temporary Repairs
Temporarily repair roof, windows, doors, and all other openings to help prevent further loss from the elements or from looting. Contact a professional electrician, plumber, and gas company for necessary repairs. Do not stay in your house if it is structurally unsafe.