CHARLESTON, W. Va. -- Early in this hurricane season severe inland flooding along the East Coast reminds West Virginians that they need to know what to do once a flood arrives, according to state and federal disaster recovery officials.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services (WVOES) recommend:
- Don't drive through a flooded area. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.
- If your car stalls, abandon it immediately and climb to higher ground. Many deaths have resulted from attempts to move stalled vehicles.
- Don't walk through flooded areas. As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.
- Keep children away from creeks, streams and drainage systems.
- Do not drive through standing or flowing water.
Precautions Returning Home·
- Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the utility company, police or fire department.
- If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Contact an electrician for assistance.
- If you suspect sewage lines are damaged, avoid using the toilets and contact a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, contact the water company and avoid using water from the tap.
- Check refrigerated foods for spoilage and throw out any questionable food.
Flood Insurance Important
Officials add that purchasing flood insurance also is an important step in getting ready for upcoming storms.
“The best indicator of success is good word-of-mouth and neighbors are telling neighbors that flood insurance is worth it,” Lou Botta, FEMA federal coordinating officer, said. He noted that 25 percent of all flood loss claims occur outside the 100-year floodplain and insurance for structures located outside the floodplain can be very inexpensive.
The Preferred Risk Policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is available for most homeowners with a one- to -four family residential building located outside of a high-risk flood area and can cost as little as $106 a year. It takes one year for a flood insurance policy to be in force.
Homeowners and renters can buy NFIP flood insurance through most major private insurance companies and licensed property insurance agents who sell homeowners’ or property insurance or call the NFIP's toll-free information line at 800-427-4661 or for individuals with hearing- or -speech impairments (TTY/TDD) 800-427-5593.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.