“How high’s the water, Momma?”
“She said it’s four feet high an’ rising’!”
Hopefully, not in your basement or living room or attic.
But it does happen to many people every year and I always have to wonder why. Like, why would a farmer build his house on the most fertile soil he has? Never did understand that. Or why locals who know it’s gonna get wet insist on building as close to the river or lake as they possibly can. But they do it, and every year pay the price. In actuality, we all pay the price in higher insurance rates and disaster repairs, so no one really wins when a flood hits. Not even the fish. But that’s not what we’re discussing, is it?
We want to be safe when the disaster hits- not just flooding, but it’s that time of year so we prepare for it best we can.
First, about our homes and what’s in them. In basements that get only minimal flooding, let’s get everything off the floor. Put blocks or some form of feet under everything. If it’s paper stuff inside a dresser, how about getting small plastic tubs to keep the paperwork in? Family pictures are always heirlooms, as are slides and film- don’t leave them stacked in drawers or cabinets that aren’t waterproof. (We won’t discuss how I know this.)
How about other important papers- birth certificates, marriage licenses (no, just cuz you lose it in a flood doesn’t mean you’re no longer married, so don’t go there!), baptismal certifications- anything that’s paper and subject to moisture should be packed away long before a flood decides to turn them to basic paper mush. That house deed you have tucked in back of the drawer won’t look all that impressive if it’s glued to ten other pieces of meaningless paper. Get it into something dry.
While we’re taking care of all the important papers, how about photocopying them now, or taking digital pictures of them? Put the digital files onto your ‘puter, make a disk and flash drive copy of them and store those someplace cool, dry and not susceptible to moisture. While we have the camera out, take pictures of your valuables as well: jewelry, guns, kitchen appliances (insurance will want the info, too- so have copies of receipts for everything), and take lots of pictures of Grandma’s china collection. And that 1738 Stradivarius. How about the Original Fender Electric guitar you inherited? (Getting the idea?) If you’ll ever want to claim some kind of remuneration for loss, you’ll need all the proof you can find beyond “the neighbors know”. Get it now if you haven’t already.
For some reason, people seldom think of their basement getting wet or holding water. It has a drain, right? How come the water sits in it? Well… that little hole in the floor… How about finding- now, while the cost is probably the lowest of the year- some pumps and garden hose with which you can divert the incoming flow to the outdoors? Submersible pumps are not terribly expensive for what they do and what they can save you. Consider, even if it’s only your basement that gets flooded, what happens to the furnace when the night temp drops to 20 degrees and you’re trying to sleep? Keep that furnace dry and it’ll do its job. A sump pump or two can quite possibly keep the heat on. Too, how does the water enter your basement? Do the windows leak seriously big time? Do the wells need drain tile to below frost line? Are the tile clogged with last fall’s leaves? Is it leaching through the walls? Why? Would a coat of tar and plastic help? (Summer time job, and a big one, really.) Or does the water rise through the septic drain? Is there some way to block that floor opening if necessary? (Be sure to have sump pumps handy.)
If your basement is prone to serious flooding, get everything you want to keep in plastic tubs. Best bet: don’t store damage-able items in the basement.
If your home is low to the ground and water can enter the living floors… how can you prevent it? Can you start packing the sandbags now? Will sandbags work? How about retaining walls? Can you build one (another summer project, and spendy.) Now is the time to get the supplies you’ll need, and maybe even have the available help of friends and neighbors. Just think of how much fun it’ll be to take the teasing now so you can relax later? (And everyone comes begging you to help them now because…)
About your POV/vehicle.
Is it ‘flood ready’? How’re the tires? Gas tank full, or no less than half full- enough to get you out of town to a safe area? Is the oil level up to snuff? Do you have a couple of maps in the cubby with several routes color pencil marked routes and alternate routes to safety? Is there a GO bag in the trunk with three days’ food and water for each family member? Sleeping bags? A tent? Some form of self defense tools? (Of course, you have your carry piece, but what about the other family/group members? What? Guns for flooding? Yes, of course: we never know what or who we may run into during any kind of calamity.) Is there some form of radio communication in the trunk- with adequate batteries and spares? Some may even want a battery operated tv for news and keeping the kids entertained. Have batteries for it as well. (Perhaps a small Honda or Coleman gas operated generator would fit above the spare tire. OK: Thinking outside the box.) Whatever your plans for evacuation, be sure it’s ready to go in minutes. No one wants to forget something because they were in too big a frenzy to think clearly or because the kids were screaming and crying and wanting Fido to sit on their lap.
Speaking of Fido and Fluffy- got some grub in the trunk for them, too? And add more water for them: a dog and cat will drink as much water as you will, sometimes more. Don’t neglect them. What other kind of animals do you have to prepare for? Cows? Goats? Sheep? Chickens? Rabbits? (We’re preppers, remember?) Spend some time thinking of their safety, too. You won’t want to return home to find your cattle eighty miles down the road in Farmer Bill’s freezer. (OK, maybe his name is Herman…) Or dead in their pen.
A few links that may benefit us all:
Get your prep on, Folks. Be alert, be safe.