When it rains frequently, like in Florida during our warmest months, it can be difficult to assess the level of danger. People often underestimate the power and force of water, though flash floods are a leading cause of weather-related fatalities and the leading cause of weather-related damage in the United States.
It is important to plan ahead, to know what to do and what not to do if a flood is imminent.
Know the Different Types of Floods Which Could Affect Your Home
When a normally dry area experiences a rapid water level rise, this is known as a flash flood. Minutes or hours can separate the time between the heavy rain and flooding. A flash flood can also occur when water from a stream or creek rises quickly, or even when there is no weather event at all – a dam bursts, for example.
Prolonged rainfall over several days can cause a river or stream to overflow, flooding the surrounding areas.
The amount of ground able to absorb rainfall is decreased in urban areas, thus increasing water runoff.
- Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
In addition to its many other weather hazards, hurricanes can also bring the risk of flooding. Storm surges from a Category 2 hurricane can be six feet above normal, with major hurricanes increasing that number. For areas and homes only a few feet above sea level, this could be devastating. In Florida, hurricane season begins June 1 and ends November 30.
Prepare for Floods
- Are you in a high risk flood zone? Know how floodwaters can affect your property, and plan your evacuation route before severe weather is near.
- Purchase an NOAA weather radio for updates.
- Create a home inventory to expedite the claims process and help ensure that you are reimbursed for your belongings. This can easily be done with a smartphone or video camera.
- Review your flood insurance coverage. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do NOT cover flood loss, and federal flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect. Speak with your agent about your coverage today.
- Gather your important documents. Keep your insurance policy and other critical papers in a waterproof and portable container, so you can quickly grab them on the go.
Safety Rules in the Event of a Flood
- Evacuate immediately.
- Go to higher ground.
- Do not cross flowing water or flooded roadways, whether by foot or car. Eighteen inches of water can carry away most vehicles. This includes larger vehicles like trucks and SUVs. And a good rule of thumb is if you are on foot and the water is above your ankles, it can knock you over.
What to Do After a Flood
- Don’t go back to the area until it has been declared safe by local or state officials.
- If your home has been damaged, contact your flood insurance company.
- Photograph the damage for claims purposes.
- Have an electrician inspect your system. Keep power off in the meantime.
- Boil water for any food preparation. Remove any food that has been affected.
- Remove as much of the wet contents in the home as possible to prevent mold.
- Wear gloves and boots while cleaning or disinfecting your home.
American Integrity offers a separate flood policy through Wright’s flood for Florida homeowners. Learn more here.