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Sharing Flood Safety On Your Website Year-Round

Although Flood Safety Awareness Week comes to an end today it is just the beginning of a very busy flood season, as announced yesterday by the National Weather Service (NWS) in their annual spring outlook.

As flood season continues, you can share flood safety tips directly from FEMA on your website by using our flooding widget.  The widget provides current flood conditions, links to, interactive flood risk resources and other critical flood insurance information to help citizens get prepared for potential flooding.  And as the year goes on, the information and links in the widget will automatically update to reflect the flooding risks of the current/upcoming season.

Sounds great – how do I use it on my website? 

A widget is simply a piece of reusable code that can be embedded on a website – allowing multiple sites to display the same graphic and information.  So if you manage your own website, simply insert the code onto a web page that has sufficient space to display the widget.  If your site is managed by a web manager, then send them the code below, along with the place you would like the widget to display.

Copy this code for the Are you prepared for flooding? (English) Widget:

Copy this code for the Are you prepared for flooding? (Spanish) Widget:

Annual U.S. Spring Outlook: Flooding Expected to Worsen

The National Weather Service (NWS) released their annual spring outlook today to help citizens take the necessary steps to prepare. This year’s outlook predicts spring flooding will worsen beginning as early as this week, affecting almost half the country from the North Central U.S. through the Midwest and the Northeast, causing an above average risk of flooding across portions of the Northeast, including Southern New England and parts of eastern NY State.

Some specifics from the Spring Outlook include:

  • For the third consecutive year, forecasters predict major flooding along the Red River of the North, which forms the state line between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota.
  • Other areas of the Midwest primed for major flooding include Devils Lake in North Dakota, the Milk River in Northeastern Montana, the James and Big Sioux Rivers in South Dakota, the Minnesota River, and the Mississippi River from its headwaters near St. Paul, Minnesota, downstream to St. Louis.
  • There is an above average risk of flooding across portions of the Northeast, including Southern New England and parts of eastern NY State.

In a conference call today with the National Weather Service, Administrator Fugate reiterated that there are a few simple steps every family should take now, before disaster strikes: be aware of your risk, make an emergency kit, get a family communication plan and get flood insurance before flooding occurs.

At FEMA, we have been working closely with all our state partners on incorporating lessons learned from the past flood seasons into our emergency planning for this year, as well as conducting aggressive outreach with our federal, state and local counterparts, and emergency managers. For more information on these efforts, check out:

You can continue to monitor the latest forecasts from your local National Weather Service office, visit our Flood Safety Awareness page for additional preparedness tips, and remember, if you come across a flooded road, Turn Around, Don’t Drown.


Three Steps to Flood Safety

Our agencies, along with other Federal, State, local agencies, volunteer and faith-based groups, and the private sector, are emphasizing flood safety this week.

Since last year’s flood season, FEMA has been working with all our state partners on incorporating lessons learned from the past flood seasons into our emergency planning for this year, and emphasizing the important role that the public has in those emergency plans.

And since February, our regional offices have been conducting aggressive outreach, along with our federal, state and local counterparts, emergency managers, and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Guard and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, about the importance of personal preparedness.

It’s of particular importance this year because many communities have already experienced flooding as snow melts and spring rains come. National Weather Service forecasts are calling for a particularly busy spring flooding season for the upper Midwest eastward through New England, but this message isn’t only for that area of the country.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the U.S., and causes billions of dollars in damage each year for families and businesses. Whether you are a homeowner, renter, or business owner, there are steps you can take to reduce the damage a potential flood may inflict.

We challenge you to take these three easy steps to get prepared for flooding:

  • Know your risk – Look for the updated NOAA Spring Outlook tomorrow on, and understand the current flood risk in your area by monitoring National Weather Service river forecasts and flood warnings. Another useful site for learning your risk for flooding is, where you can enter an address and learn its flood risk profile.
  • And as always, when severe weather strikes, we urge all individuals in the region to listen to NOAA Weather Radio and their local news to monitor for updates and follow the directions provided by their local officials.
  • Make an emergency kit – If you wait until your community has a flood warning to prepare for flooding, it’s unlikely you will be able to take the necessary precautions in time. FEMA’s preparedness website,, has tips for how you and your family can prepare before a flood strikes. Specifically, an emergency kit (containing non-perishable food items, flashlight, hand-crank radio, airtight container for important documents, and other items) can prove invaluable if your home is flooded.
  • Insure your property by purchasing flood insurance – Many people may not think of insurance as a way to be prepared, but it can be crucial in helping individuals and communities recover quickly. Homeowner’s insurance typically does not cover damage or losses from flooding, so contact your insurance agent to find out more. Flood insurance policies normally take 30 days to become effective, so it’s important to consider flood insurance before flooding hits.

Floods occur somewhere in the United States or its territories nearly every day of the year. So be prepared and be FloodSmart by taking action on the three steps above to reduce the impact a flood will have on you, your family or your business.

- Craig and Jack

Recent flooding serves as a reminder


The Northeast, and particularly the State of New Jersey, has been hit with significant flooding over the past few days

We’re continuing to closely monitor the situation along with our state and local agencies, as well the National Weather Service forecast offices.  At the request of Governor Christie, we will be assisting the State of New Jersey with preliminary damage assessments, examining the extent of the damage from the recent floods.  (See this blog post about the disaster declaration process and spring flooding.)

As Flood Safety Awareness Week continues, the recent flooding in the Northeast serves as a great reminder of the importance of being prepared for floods.  This is especially true if you are in a low-lying area, near water or downstream from a dam.  Even a very small stream or dry creek bed can overflow and create flooding.

I encourage you to take steps to get prepared for flooding, and visit to learn more.

- Lynn

Flood Safety: Be Aware, Be Prepared

National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 14-18, is an excellent opportunity for all Americans to become more educated about the dangers that flooding can cause and what steps to take to be prepared for the risk of flooding.  

The current flooding occurring in parts of the Midwest, Southern and Northeastern parts of the nation  are a very real reminder that floods can happen anywhere and at anytime in the United States. Flooding, the nation's most common natural disaster can and does happen in every U.S. state and territory.

All floods are not alike, though. Some develop slowly during an extended period of rain, or during a warming trend after a heavy snow. Others, such as flash floods, can occur very rapidly, without warning or even any visible signs of rain. That’s why it’s critical to be prepared for flooding no matter where you live.

Here are some actions that you and your family can take today  to become better prepared:

  • Get an emergency supply kit - This includes items like non-perishable food, water, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra flashlights and batteries. You may want to prepare a portable kit and keep it in your car, which would include copies of prescription medications and medical supplies and copies of important documents like a driver's license, Social Security card, etc.
  • Create a family emergency plan - Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so you should know how to contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.  Plan places where your family will meet, notify caregivers and make plans for your pets.
  • Purchase flood insurance – A flood insurance policy can protect your home, property, or business from the financial damages of flooding.  Most homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from flooding, so visit to learn more.  Flood insurance policies normally have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect, so make sure you’re protected before flooding occurs.
  • Be informed about your flood risk – As snow melts and spring rains fall, the National Weather Service uses several terms to help you identify the stages of flood hazard:
    • Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information 
    • Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information. 
    • Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately. 
    • Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

For more information about flood safety, visit

Flood Insurance Provides Lifeline For Business Owners


Getting prepared for spring flooding is one of the topics driving our attention this time of year.  In previous blog posts, we’ve highlighted two approaches to getting prepared - learning from past disasters and sharing your preparedness tips with your neighbor.

While many preparedness tips focus on individuals taking action, businesses also play a vital role in helping an affected community come back to full strength after a disaster. 

One way businesses (as well as residents) can protect their property from the financial damages of flooding is by purchasing flood insurance.  See this couple’s story to learn how flood insurance helped their business come back faster after a flood:

Protecting your business’s assets with flood insurance is one part of getting prepared - employees can use tips on to make their family emergency plan and build their emergency kit, so they can return to normalcy faster as well.

Has your business seen the benefit of flood insurance? Share your story below.

- Dan

Other links
- For more information on commercial and residential flood insurance, visit
- For more information on getting your business prepared before a disaster strikes, visit

The Disaster Declaration Process, Spring Flood Edition

As you may have read on this blog and in the news, spring flood season is upon us.

At the end of last year, we did a post on FEMA’s role in winter weather, and thought we would share what the disaster declaration process looks like when it comes to flooding.

The bottom line is that – as with all disasters – FEMA is not the team, FEMA is only part of the team.

When natural disasters, such as flooding, occur, first responders are the first ones on the ground, providing the emergency assistance that protects the public’s health and safety, while meeting immediate human needs. These first responders include local emergency and public works personnel, volunteers, humanitarian organizations, and numerous private interest groups in each community.

In many, if not most, flood events, that part of the team, along with state and local emergency management officials, has the resources that are needed to respond and recover from the event.

What if they need federal help?

In cases where a flood event overwhelms the resources of state, territory, tribal, local government, and voluntary agencies, a governor may request an emergency declaration or a major disaster declaration.  Both declaration types authorize the president to provide supplemental federal disaster assistance.  However, the event related to the disaster declaration, as well as the type and amount of assistance may differ.


  • Emergency Declarations: An emergency declaration can be declared for any occasion or instance when the president determines federal assistance is needed. Emergency declarations supplement state and local efforts in providing emergency services, such as the protection of lives, property, public health, and safety, or to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in any part of the United States. The total amount of assistance provided for a single emergency may not exceed $5 million. If this amount is exceeded, the president shall report to Congress.
  • The president can declare a major disaster declaration for any natural event, including any hurricane, tornado, storm, high water, wind-driven water, tidal wave, tsunami, earthquake, volcanic eruption, landslide, mudslide, snowstorm, or drought, or, regardless of cause, fire, flood, or explosion, that the president believes has caused damage of such severity that it is beyond the combined capabilities of state, territory, tribal, local government, and voluntary agencies to respond. A major disaster declaration provides a wide range of federal assistance programs for individuals and public infrastructure, including funds for both emergency and permanent work.

When does a governor make a request?

Sometimes – like the floods in Tennessee last year – the governor makes a request before or soon after the storm ends, and in other cases, a governor may wait until after the flood waters recede, in order to get a full assessment of the damage, before requesting a disaster declaration.

And what exactly do you mean by “assistance”?

A major disaster declaration request will also include a request for assistance under one or two broad categories of assistance, which we refer to as public assistance (PA) and individual assistance (IA). Public assistance is financial assistance for repairing public infrastructure, like roads, schools, fire stations, etc.

Individual assistance can be provided to eligible individuals and households who are uninsured, or under-insured, and suffered losses due to disaster damage. It’s important to remember that by law, the amount of individual assistance a person or household can receive is capped (just over $30,000 for this year), and may not cover losses to the extent that a flood insurance policy would, which is why we are often encouraging families to purchase insurance. This assistance is also intended to support only necessary and serious needs that resulted from the disaster. The best way to make sure you and your family are protected against the devastating impacts of flooding is to have flood insurance.

FEMA is also able to provide assistance by serving as a coordinator for the federal agencies that can help support response and recovery efforts. For example, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses its engineering and contracting capabilities to support FEMA and other federal, state and local government agencies in a wide variety of missions during natural and man-made disasters. Learn more here.

But isn’t this all complicated?

This is the formal process, but in reality, every day, through our 10 regional offices we are working hand in hand with our state counterparts to plan for whatever the next emergency may be.

But as with most things, Administrator Fugate puts it best. Below is a video of when Administrator Fugate explained the process to the White House press corps, following the floods that devastated Tennessee a little less than a year ago.

Video: Couple shares their flooding preparedness tips

Many times, the most useful and memorable advice comes from people sharing their experiences and that holds especially true when it comes to advice on how to prepare before disaster strikes.

Check out this video from a couple in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and how they are taking steps to protect their home from flooding:

If you live in an area that has a risk of flooding the tips in the video above are great places to start getting prepared.  Here are some other ways you can prepare your family, home, or business for flooding:

  • Visit – for details on getting an emergency kit, making your family emergency plan, and being informed about the dangers of floods
  • Purchase flood insurance – flood insurance policies typically take 30 days to become effective, so make sure to purchase flood insurance as a way to prepare before potential flooding
  • Share what you’re doing with a neighbor – each of us can play a role in helping our communities become more resilient by sharing our own preparedness tips with each other

How are you preparing for this flood season? Share your tips below.

FEMA Regions Continue Supporting States for Spring Flooding

The National Weather Service has issued forecasts indicating communities in the Dakotas and Minnesota are at a significant risk for major flooding this spring, and Ohio and other states are already dealing with significant floods. Indeed, disaster season 2011 is upon us, and we are working together to coordinate closely with states in the impacted regions as they respond to or prepare for flooding, and stand ready to assist them any way we can.

Our regional offices in Chicago and in Denver continue to monitor forecasts, plan for extreme flooding, and anticipate the commodities and resources that might be requested by the states of North and South Dakota, and Minnesota. In fact, since last year, we have been working closely with our state partners to incorporate lessons learned from past flood seasons into our emergency planning for this year, and continue to communicate with them to discuss emergency planning, and encourage personal preparations such as purchasing insurance, pre-assembling emergency supplies and creating a personal plan of action.

In February, our offices met with our respective federal, state and local officials, emergency managers, and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Guard and NOAA. These meetings allowed us to hear directly from many of our response partners on coordinating efforts for this year’s flood season.

The shared borders of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota hold a rich history, common to all residents. These areas also share some challenges, particularly flooding, and potentially this year more than ever. FEMA is committed to supporting all three states with emergency assistance should they suffer severe impacts to overland and river flooding.

One final note: before flood waters rise, it’s important that residents and business owners become involved and prepared. Check out this blog post from Deputy Administrator Tim Manning about how you can prepare for flooding.

- Andrew and Robin

Preparing for spring flooding

With the end of winter in sight, warmer weather is right around the corner. While most of us are happy to say goodbye to our winter coats, shoveling snow, and wearing snow boots, spring also means in increased risk of flooding in many areas of the U.S. The rainy months of March and April, combined with melting snow packs, can cause water levels to rise in rivers and streams in many areas.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently published an updated flood forecast for the North Central U.S., including parts of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and Montana.

Our regional offices in Denver, Chicago, and Kansas City, MO, have already been working with the entire emergency management team (state, local and tribal agencies, volunteer and faith-based agencies, the private sector, and the public), to prepare for potential flooding. Check back for future posts on our ongoing preparations for spring flooding.

Even if you don’t live in the area included in the NOAA forecast, it’s wise to understand your flood risk and get prepared. is a great place to find information on getting prepared for flooding, breaking preparedness down into three simple steps: get a kit, make a plan, and be informed.


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