FEMA Resources

Flooding is a common occurrence in the United States that can happen anywhere and anytime. How to Prepare for a Flood explains how to protect yourself and your property, and the measures you can preemptively take to protect your home and business.


What  A flood is an overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Flooding may range from a few inches of water to many feet. In all cases you should be prepared

When  Floods can occur during any season, though some regions may be affected more greatly during certain times of the year. Coastal areas are at greater during hurricane season (i.e. June to November), while the Midwest has more risk in the spring and during heavy summer rains. Ice jams in the winter can cause flooding in the Northern regions of the U.S. while the Southwest may see flooding during late summer monsoon season.


Where  Floods may occur in any U.S. state or territory. It is especially important to be prepared for flooding if you live in low-lying areas or are near bodies of water such as a river, stream, culvert, ocean, or are downstream from bodies of water.


How  Flood can occur in several ways, including the following:

·     Rivers and lakes overfilling due to excessive rain or snowmelt

·     Excessive rain or snowmelt not being absorbed into the ground quickly enough

·     Waterways are blocked causing a spillover

·     Structural failures in water containment systems

·     Storm systems causing seawater to be pushed onto land

Floods vary significantly

·     Flooding can occur slowly with continuous rainfall. This type of flooding, also known as slow-onset flooding, can take a week to develop and may have lasting effects up to months before floodwaters recede.

·     Occurring more quickly, rapid-onset floods typically develop over the period of a few hours or days. These floods occur in smaller watersheds experiencing heavy rainfall (e.g. mountainous or urban areas), and the water generally recedes in a few days

·     A sub-set of rapid-onset floods, flash-floods, occur very quickly with little to no warning. This usually happens during unusually heavy downpours of rain when water containment systems become damaged. Densely populated areas are at risk for flash-floods.

·     Winds from tropical storm systems such as cyclones or hurricanes can push seawater from the seabed onto land, causing a huge storm surge. Combined with the ocean’s tides, these surges create storm-tide surges. Such events can cause flooding across large areas, and generally occur over short periods of time (4-8 hours) and may take days to several weeks or months to recede to pre-storm levels.


Impact  The damage caused by flooding depends on the speed and level of water, duration of the flooding event, terrain and soil conditions, and the local environment (i.e. buildings, roads, bridges, etc.).

·     Floods may cause serious injuries or even be fatal for people in the direct path of flooding.

·     Transportation, utilities, and assistance may become disrupted

·     Clean water supplies may become polluted

·     Floodwaters may cause erosion to infrastructure

·     May lead to other natural disasters such as landslides and mudslides

·     Floodwaters are deceptive; even a few inches may cause serious harm and damage


Your Goals for Protection


Personal Protection  Evacuate the area if you are there is danger of floodwaters directly in your path. Follow directions from local authorities about when and where to relocate to in the case of flooding. If you do not evacuate on time, or become trapped due to floodwaters, DO NOT enter the flooded areas. Wait for assistance to come to you.


Property Protection  Reduce the risk of damage to your property from flooding. Elevate critical utilities and waterproof basements. In areas that have consistent flooding you may consider elevating the entire structure of your property. Install battery-powered generators in case of power failures as well as water-alarms to notify you of rising water levels. Maintain your sump pumps, anchor fuel tanks, and move furniture, valuables, and important documents to safe locations.


Risk Management  Purchase of flood insurance provides financial protection for the cost of replacement and repairs due to flood damage. Standard insurance policies do not cover flooding, but flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, and business owners through the National Flood Insurance Program, NFIP.


Flood Facts and Myths


Myth: Federal disaster assistance will pay for flood damage

Fact: A community must first become eligible for federal assistance by declaring themselves as a federal disaster area. Roughly 50 percent of flooding events receive such a designation. The premium for NFIP policies averages a little more than $500 per year and can be less expensive than the monthly payments on a federal disaster loan. Moreover, if you are uninsured and receive federal disaster assistance, you must purchase flood insurance for future disaster relief.


Myth: Only residents of high-flood risk areas need to insure their property

Fact: All areas are susceptible to flooding, although the degree to which the flooding occurs varies. About 25% percent of NFIP’s claims come from outside high-flood risk areas. Those outside of these areas should ask their agents if are eligible for Preferred Risk Policies, which provides inexpensive flood insurance protection.




For more information about what to do before, during, and after a flood, check out:


How to Prepare for a Flood

Protect Your New Home

Why do I Need Flood Insurance

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For more information about the facts about floods you can check out:

Myths and Facts about the National Flood Insurance Program

1 Inch of Water Can Cost $25,000 in Damages


For information regarding signing up for the NFIP you can check out:

A Small Investment Protects You from a Big Problem

Your Homeowner's Insurance Does Not Cover Flood Insurance

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