Cover photo of a man pushing a wheelbarrow filled with sand bags

First, Prepare for Flooding

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Protecting yourself today means preparing your home or workplace, collecting sources of information, developing an emergency communications plan and knowing what to do when a flood is approaching your home or business.

FEMA’s Flood Loss Avoidance fact sheet is a valuable resource, or visit the NFIP publications page for more information about what to do before and during a flood.

Things to know and do before the flood

  • Reduce the risk of damage from flooding by elevating critical utilities, such as electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems.
  • In areas with repetitive flooding, consider elevating the entire structure.
  • Make sure basements are waterproofed and your sump pump is working. Then, install a battery-operated backup in case of power failure.
  • Installing a water alarm will also let you know if water is accumulating in your basement.
  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.
  • Anchor any fuel tanks.
  • Move furniture, valuables and important documents to a safe place.
  • Store copies of irreplaceable documents (such as birth certificates, passports, etc.) in a safe, dry place. Keep originals in a safe deposit box.
  • Build an emergency supply kit. Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines and a battery-operated radio should be ready to go when you are. Visit Ready.gov for a complete disaster supply checklist.
  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route. Ask someone out of state to be your “family contact” in an emergency, and make sure everyone knows the contact’s address and phone number.
  • Make a pet plan. Many shelters do not allow pets. Make plans now on what to do with your pets if you are required to evacuate your residence.

Check your policy and coverage to be sure you have sufficient coverage

  • Standard insurance policies do not cover flooding, but flood insurance is available for homeowners, renters and business owners through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Know your flood risk. Learn if you live, work or travel through areas that are prone to flooding. To help communities understand their risk of flooding, FEMA creates flood maps (Flood Insurance Rate Maps, or FIRMs) to show the locations of high-risk, moderate-to- low-risk and undetermined risk areas. To check your flood risk, look up your address in the FEMA Flood Map Service Center.
  • Take photos and videos to conduct a household inventory, and keep a record of all major household items and valuables. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.