SEATTLE, Wash. -- As the days get warmer, we look forward to gardening and playing outdoors. But this is also a time to be aware of the threats of Mother Nature. If you live in the mountains or in Alaska, you know that spring ice break-up can cause major problems. Those living in the rest of the Northwest can expect lots of rain, with an ever-present threat of severe storms and flooding.
It only takes a couple of inches of rainfall to create a potential for flooding, and with the snow pack at high-than-normal levels, some communities could be seriously threatened.
FEMA Preparedness and Mitigation experts have several recommendations to help people get ready for the challenges of April showers.
First and foremost on the list is to get flood insurance. The average cost of flood insurance is about $750 a year. You do not have to live in a flood plain to get flood insurance. In fact, the rates for lower-risk properties are correspondingly lower. It’s a good idea to buy insurance now, while the sun is still shining, because there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy can take effect. When the waters are rising, it’ll be too late to purchase a policy.
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.
Anchor your 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, how to buy flood insurance, and how to prepare for floods.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.