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American Family Insurance provides tips on preventing damage from flooding

Madison, Wis. (June 26, 2014) — Even if you feel you live in a community with a low risk of flooding, remember: Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Just because you haven’t experienced a flood in the past, doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Flood risk is based on history, rainfall, topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, along with changes due to construction and development.

In other words, where it rains, it can pour – and flood. Did you know you don’t have to live in a flood plain to be at risk from flooding? Flooding can occur at any place and at any time. With recent heavy rains in Minnesota, communities lying to the south along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers should be aware of higher water levels and take steps to protect their property.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) manages the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes federally backed flood insurance available in communities that agree to adopt and enforce flood-plain management ordinances to reduce future flood damage.

Flood insurance is available in most communities through insurance agents and is available whether the building is in or out of an identified flood-prone area. But, there is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance goes into effect. So when the river is cresting, that’s not the time to buy.

However, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety offers valuable tips for protecting your home before and after a flood to minimize damage.

Prepare – When flooding is imminent

  • Clear drains, gutters and downspouts of debris so they can channel rainwater away from your home.
  • Roll up area rugs and carpeting and store these on higher floors or elevations. This will reduce the chances of rugs getting wet and growing mold.
  • Move furniture and electronics off the floor or to higher floors and elevations, particularly if they are in basements and first floor levels.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. An unanchored tank can be torn free by floodwaters, and the broken supply line can cause contamination. If outdoors, fuel tanks can be swept downstream and damage other property.
  • Prepare an evacuation kit with important papers, insurance documents, medications and other things you may need if you are forced to be away from your home for several days.
  • Inspect sump pumps and drains to ensure proper operation. If a sump pump has a battery backup, make sure the batteries are fresh or replace the batteries.
  • Shut off electrical service at the main breaker if the electrical system and outlets will be under water.
  • Place all appliances, including stove, washer and dryer, on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.

Respond – If time allows

  • Hire a licensed electrician to raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the expected flood levels for your area.
  • If flood waters enter the sewer system, sewage can back up and enter your home. To prevent this, hire a licensed plumber to install an interior or exterior backflow valve. Check with your building department for permit requirements.
  • Make sure your yard's grading (slope) directs water away from the building.
  • Have the installation of your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment modified so that they are elevated above the expected flood levels for your area.

Recover – After a flood

  • As soon as it is safe to do so, disconnect all electronics/electrical equipment and move them to a dry location.
  • Remove as much standing water as possible from inside the building.
  • Remove water-damaged materials immediately.
  • Ventilate with fans or use dehumidifiers to dry out the house.

Acting quickly can increase the chance of salvaging usable materials; reduce the amount of rust, rot and mold that might develop; and limit the likelihood of structural problems. - See more at: http://www.amfam.com/learning-center/my-home/flood-preparation.asp#sthash.WpIkyMwE.dpuf.

Based in Madison, Wis., American Family Insurance offers auto insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, health insurance, business and farm/ranch insurance in 19 states. American Family insurance is the nation’s third-largest mutual property/casualty insurance company and ranks 373rd on the Fortune 500 list. Web: www.amfam.com; Facebook: www.facebook.com/amfam; Twitter: www.twitter.com/amfam; YouTube: www.youtube.com/amfam.

News media contact:

Sandra Spann
Media Relations
(608) 242-4100, ext. 32881