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Coping with Floods

Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters, except fire, and are the number one weather-related killer in the United States. Types of flooding are often announced by local TV and radio stations. Flood warnings and watches should be taken very seriously. Flash floods are a result of heavy, intense rainstorms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period of time and usually occur within 6 hours of the rain event. Soil conditions, ground cover and topography can also play a role in contributing to flash flooding. Flooding is normally a longer term event and may last several days or weeks depending upon how much rain has fallen over several days. Urban Floods occur when land, converted from fields or woods to roads, parking lots, or driveways, loses its ability to absorb rainfall. Runoff in urban areas is two to six times greater than on natural terrain. During urban flooding, streets can become swift-moving rivers, while basements can fill up with water.

Before the Flood - What You Should Know
There are a number of things you should know before a flood occurs:

  • Know your flood risk - find out whether you are in a flood plain by calling the Public Works Department at (816) 325-7600.
  • Plan and practice an evacuation route for your family in advance.
  • Learn where electric fuse boxes (or breakers), water service mains, and natural gas mains are and how to turn them off, if necessary.
  • Learn to keep first aid supplies in a handy place.
  • Keep a weather radio in working order - stay tuned for flood watches and warnings.
  • If there is a flash flood warning in effect, avoid areas subject to flooding - never drive through flooded roadways.
  • Make sure children and pets are kept away from flood waters, storm drains and sewers.

Before the Flood - Things You Can Do
There are a number of things you can do before a flood occurs to lessen the impact:

  • Install a sump pump or check your sump pump - keep the sump pump and pit clean - make sure the discharge hose delivers the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area that slopes away from your house - do not pump or drain into the sanitary sewer system.
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts drain properly and water is directed well away from the house - install extensions (available at hardware stores) - never connect a downspout drain to the sanitary sewer.
  • Keep water out of window wells - contour the ground so water will naturally drain away from the house.
  • Keep items you consider valuable or irreplaceable (such as photo albums, personal videos, tax records, insurance policies, etc.) in a location other than the basement.
  • Store basement items one foot off the floor.
  • If you have experienced flood waters entering the basement before, raise your furnace and water heater off the floor.
  • Have installed a backflow prevention device in the building's sanitary sewer line (lateral line), either inside or outside of the building structure .... OR
  • Install a floating floor-drain plug in the floor drains which will allow water to drain - when the floor drainpipe backs up, the float will rise and plug the drain.

After the Storm Fact Sheets

 

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