As what’s left of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Ida storms across central Kentucky, it will drop several inches of rain before it moves out. Rain and floodwaters can be a destructive force. They can wash out roads, cause basement and other flooding to homes and businesses. Drivers who ignore warnings can find themselves and their vehicles stuck in floodwaters. In severe cases, drivers and their passengers drown when their vehicles are swept away in rushing water.
There are some things you can do to get ready for a couple of days of heavy rain:
Inside your home:
- Sump Pump – If you have a sump pump make sure it is working. Give it a quick test. Make sure that it drains away from the foundation of the house or structure.
- Basement/Lower Levels – If your basement or lower levels of your home are prone to flooding, move furniture and boxes off the floor. Bring them upstairs or raise them on blocks or shelving. This especially applies to any electrical appliance or electronic equipment. Once upholstered furniture gets wet with floodwater, it will be difficult to get dry.
- Doors/Windows – Make sure all doors and windows close tightly and can lock securely. If necessary, tape window edges closed.
- Backwater Valve – Some homes prone to flooding have a backwater valve that can be closed to prevent sewage from backing up into the home. If you have one, make sure you can close and open it easily.
- Household Inventory – If you haven’t done so in a while, make/check your household inventory. Make a list of all significant items in your home and take pictures of each room as a reminder.
- Check your homeowners/renters insurance – Make sure your renters/homeowners insurance is up-to-date and covers what you currently have. Some policies require additional “riders” to cover computers, jewelry or other expensive items. Review your policy with your insurance agent.
- Check your emergency plan – Is your plan up-to-date? Are your emergency contact and other phone numbers current? Do you have copies of all the documents you’ll need if you have to relocate for a time? Check out our planning page at BeReadyLexington.com/make-a-plan.
- Backup Batteries – Make sure cell phones and backup battery chargers are plugged in and fully charged. Check flashlights and other lighting devices to be sure they work. An extra package of batteries is a good step as well.
- Check your emergency kit: You and your family should have basic supplies along with a three-day supply of food, water and medicines. Here are some other items to have in your kit and a checklist that you can modify so it meets your needs.
Outside the Home
- Window Wells, Eves, Troughs/Gutters – Just about every home will have one of these, perhaps even all of these. Make sure they are cleaned of debris. It will help guide water from the house. At the same time make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house. Extend downspouts at least two feet away from the house foundation. Make sure that water runs away from your home.
- Roofs – it’s a good idea to inspect your roof at least once per year, especially before a big storm. Make sure seals around chimneys, vents are in good condition. If not reseal them. If your inspection shows missing, curled or buckled shingles, it is time to have a professional look at it.
- Street Grates – If you live near a stormwater street grate, make sure debris is cleared. No one expects you to lift the grate and do an inspection, just clean up any debris around or on the grate. Don’t rake grass or other debris into the curb. That can clog drains, streams and creeks. Sweep up yard debris and recycle it.
- Lawn Furniture/Play Equipment – Unfortunately when there are heavy or torrential rainfalls, it quite often is accompanied by high winds. Put away lawn furniture, cushions, outdoor play equipment, etc. If you can’t store it, consider tying it down securely. If you have a trampoline, make sure it’s firmly anchored to the ground. Or turn it upside down and secure it to the ground with concrete blocks or tie-downs buried in the ground.
- Foundation – Take a quick walk around and look at your foundation. If you see a crack, you should consider sealing it even if just temporarily till you can get a professional to look at it.
- Trees – Take a quick inspection of your trees. Like we said earlier, quite often we end up with strong winds as well. If you have any suspect branches, consider trimming. Dead branches should be the first to go. Branches too close to your home should be cut back.
- Backup Generator – If you have a backup generator make sure it is working and you have fuel to run it. Remember the 20-foot rule for generators – Keep them 20 feet from your residence to avoid any buildup of carbon monoxide inside.
- Cars – Make sure your cars are fully fueled. If flooding occurs, getting gas may prove difficult.
During periods of heavy rainfall, remember to stay out of floodwaters. If you’re driving, remember to use your lights and wipers. Slow down! If you come across a water-covered roadway, Turn Around-Don’t Drown. It only takes six inches of water to float some cars and fast-moving water can wash vehicles into streams and rivers. People who walk in high water can be swept away and drown. There’s a complete rundown of what to do before, during and after a flood event at BeReadyLexington.com/flood.
More preparedness information about flooding is available at the Lexington Emergency Management Facebook page: @LexingtonKYEM and the Division of Emergency Management Twitter account: @Lexkyem.
Contact: John Bobel