SALEM, Ore. -- Every year during National Flood Safety Awareness Week (March 16-20), the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) educates Americans about how floods occur and what residents can do to safeguard their lives and property. This year FEMA is partnering with NOAA to introduce flood insurance as an important element in flood preparation and protection.
Since flooding is so common throughout Oregon, Oregon Emergency Management has decided to join FEMA and NOAA in getting the word out. Whether flooding is from the flowing waters of Oregon rivers, creeks, and streams, or from all too often coastal storms, being aware of your own flood risk and what you can do about it is very important.
"In Oregon you have to be prepared for floods, whether you live in a flood zone, or not." says Ken Murphy, Director of Oregon Emergency Management. "There are ways to know if you are in a flood zone. Flood Safety Awareness Week information can be found at www.floodsmart.gov/noaafloodweek. Individuals can view an interactive map showing the scope, cause and magnitude of flooding in their communities/state or nearby, check with a local planning department, or fill in their address on the form on the one-step flood risk profile at www.floodsmart.gov."
All of Oregon's counties participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), complete with flood maps to help businesses, homeowners, or renters determine if they are in a flood plain.
Knowing the reach of the highest flood on record is a good way of knowing what may flood again. Property within 100 feet of moving water such as a stream or river is at risk of flooding, particularly if the moving water is prone to debris jamming that can cause flooding. Coastal Oregon communities are subject to severe storms and erosion causing flooding of low or susceptible areas.
Even being outside the flood zone is not necessarily safe. More than 25% of all flood claims are from outside the flood zone. Property that is flat is more likely to flood.
Flood insurance is the best protection and is available everywhere in Oregon. Flood insurance is available through most insurance agencies; however floods are not covered under regular business, home owners, or renters insurance.
There are a number of protective measures to take to avoid flood damage. Figure out how high flood waters are likely to get on your land and in what direction and speed the water is likely to flow. It is best to have your home, business, shop, or garage sited above flood levels.
Move outdoor storage and parking above the potential flood water level whenever possible. Securely anchor buoyant items such as oil and propane tanks, or firewood stacks to keep them from floating away.
Do not store trash or waste where it may be reached by flood waters. Install backflow preventer valves in septic lines and locate outhouses on higher ground above flood levels. Seal or raise the tops of well casings and monitoring tubes. Raise generators, pumps, electrical outlets, appliances, stands and shelving above water levels. Make sure your animals can reach safety above flood waters without help.
Flood insurance, building smart, and protective measures are the best way to avoid the impact of Oregon flooding. Just a few inches of water can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage, destroying homes, businesses, and wiping out personal savings should a resident NOT have flood insurance.
FEMA leads and supports the nation in a risk-based, comprehensive emergency management system of preparedness, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation to reduce the loss of life and property and protect the nation from all hazards including natural disasters, acts of terrorism, and other man-made disasters.