Every year during National Flood Safety Week, 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, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is partnering with NOAA to introduce flood insurance as an important element in flood preparation and protection.
Since flooding is so common throughout Georgia, the City of Austell has joined FEMA and NOAA in getting the word out. Whether flooding is from the flowing waters of rivers, creeks, and streams, being aware of your own flood risk and what you can do about it is very important.
In Georgia, you have to be prepared for floods, whether you live in a flood zone, or not. National Flood Awareness Week information can be found at www.floodsafety.noaa.gov. Individuals can view an interactive map showing the scope, cause, and magnitude of flooding in your neighborhood. You can also visit http://www.floodsmart.gov/ to visit the risk profile for your neighborhood.
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. Many communities in Georgia’s 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! Since 1974, the City of Austell has been a participant of the National Flood Insurance Program and flood insurance is available to everyone in the City - even if you are no where close to a stream or creek. 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. Floating debris clogs roadway pipes resulting in increased upstream flooding.
Do not store trash or waste where it may be reached by flood waters.
- Install backflow preventer valves in septic lines. 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 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.
Preparation and Recovery – Before a Flood
After getting flood insurance, there are several things you can do to minimize losses in your home and ensure your family’s safety.
1. Safeguard your possessions.
Create a personal "flood file" containing information about all your possessions and keep it in a secure place, such as a safe deposit box or waterproof container. This file should have:
- A copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information.
- A room-by-room inventory of your possessions, including receipts, photos, and videos.
- Copies of all other critical documents, including finance records or receipts of major purchases.
2. Prepare your house.
Make sure your sump pump is working.
Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
Anchor any fuel tanks.
Raise your electrical components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers, and wiring) at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation.
Place the furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer on cement blocks at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.
Move furniture, valuables, and important documents to a safe place.
3. Develop a family emergency plan.
Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, and a flashlight.
Post emergency telephone numbers by the phone and teach your children how to dial 911.
Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family. Know safe routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to be your emergency family contact.
Have a plan to protect your pets.
For more information on emergency preparation, talk to your insurance agent or visit www.ready.gov.
Stay Safe During a Flood
Learn your risk, and find an agent, by taking Your Risk Profile at www.floodsmart.gov.