DENVER - As spring approaches, Montana communities are once again preparing for the possibility of flooding. FEMA Recovery and Mitigation experts have several recommendations to help people get ready for flood waters.
First and foremost on the list is to get flood insurance. In Montana, the average cost of a flood insurance policy is about $600 a year. Since 1978, state residents have collected more than $5.5 million in insurance reimbursements.
It’s the first thing to do because there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy can take effect. If the waters are rising, it may be too late to file a flood insurance claim.
Other steps you can take to protect your family and your property include:
- Make sure downspouts carry water several feet from your house to a well-drained area. - About 2,500 gallons of water will come from a 1,000 square foot roof with one foot of snow depth across the roof. This much water may cause problems if allowed to drain next to the house.
- Move snow on the ground away from the house. Water from the snow may cause a wet basement if allowed to run down along the basement wall. If the ground is sloped 1 inch per foot near the house, moving the snow just 3-5 feet from the house will reduce problems.
- Examine and clean your sump pump, if you have one. Test your sump pump by pouring water into the pit. Make sure the discharge hose carries the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area. Also make sure that the pipe is on sloped ground so it drains to prevent it from freezing.
- Remove snow from around rural yards to minimize soft, wet soil conditions. Remember that a 20-foot diameter 10-foot high pile of snow contains about 2,600 gallons of water. Move the snow to well-drained areas.
- Anchor any fuel tanks. An unanchored tank in your basement can be torn free by floodwaters and the broken supply line can contaminate your basement. An unanchored tank outside can be swept downstream, where it can damage other houses.
- Have a licensed electrician raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12" above your home's projected flood elevation.
- Place the furnace and water heater on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12” above the projected flood elevation.
- If your washer and dryer are in the basement, elevate them on masonry or pressure-treated lumber at least 12” above the projected flood elevation.
- Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family.
- Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be the "family contact" in case your family is separated during a flood. Make sure everyone in your family knows the name, address, and phone number of this contact person.
Call 1-888-379-9531 (TTY: 800-427-5593) or visit www.FloodSmart.gov to learn more about potential flood risks, flood insurance and how to prepare for floods.