Before the Event
While hurricanes are known and feared for their ferocious winds, historically it is the water that causes most of the deaths in hurricanes. About 90 percent of all hurricane fatalities occur from drowning in either storm surge or freshwater flooding.
Watches and Warnings
According to the National Weather Service a flood watch means that current and developing weather conditions are such that there is a threat of flooding, but the occurrence is neither certain nor imminent. A flood warning means a flood is already occurring or will occur soon in your area, that may pose a serious threat to life or property.
Pre-Planning is Important
- Know the flood risk and the flood zone for your area.
- Choose a safe area to go and prepare an evacuation plan.
- Homeowner's and windstorm insurance does not cover flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program is administered by the Federal government, and policies are sold through insurance agents. Consider flood insurance even if you live in an area not susceptible to flooding. Poor drainage systems, rapid accumulation of rainfall, and broken water mains can all result in flooding.
- Keep insurance papers, important documents, and other valuables in a safe deposit box.
- Stock a portable radio, flashlight, and emergency supplies.
- Clear catch basins, drain covers and swale areas of debris.
- Put away loose items that could impede water drainage (such as trash receptacles).
- Listen to the radio or television for up-to-date information.
- Disconnect pool pumps.
- Raise household items and personal effects off the floor.
- Turn off utilities at the main power switch.
- Sandbag (if possible) windows and doors.
- Fill your car's gas tank.
- Close the main gas valve if you plan to evacuate.
Storm surge can cause water levels to rise quickly and flood large areas, leaving you only a few minutes to take action. The National Hurricane Center has 10 Tips to Be Ready.
Updated June 2014