Nobody can stop a flood. But there are actions you can take before, during, and after a flood to protect your family and keep your property losses to a minimum.
BEFORE THE FLOOD
Stay tuned Listen to your radio, TV, or National Weather Service radio for the latest information on weather conditions that can cause flooding.
Flash Flood Watch- Conditions exist that may lead to flash flooding.
Urban and Small Stream Advisory- Flooding of small streams, streets, and low-lying areas is occurring.
Flash Flood Warning- Flash flooding has been reported. Stay alert. Avoid unnecessary travel during severe weather. Poor visibility can make trips dangerous. Warn children to not play near swollen creeks, stormdrains, or culverts. Do not go near creeks and low-water crossings. Beware of rising, swift-moving water. Charlottesville creeks can rise to dangerous levels in as little as one hour. Man-made features such as stormdrains, fences, and culverts create additional "strainers" that can snag and drown even the strongest swimmer. If you see major obstructions such as downed trees or telephone poles in a creek, or if you see a blocked culvert or bridge opening in the City of Charlottesville, call 434-970-3800.
Flood Warning- River flooding has been reported or is expected to occur within 24 hours. This would apply to rivers such as the Rivanna River.
If time permits... and your house is in the path of the flood: ·
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if evacuation appears necessary.
- Move valuables, such as papers, furs, jewelry, and clothing to upper floors or higher elevations.
- Fill bathtubs, sinks, and plastic soda bottles with clean water. Sanitize the sinks and tubs first by using bleach and rinsing.
- Bring outdoor possessions, such as lawn furniture, grills, and trash cans inside, or tie them down securely.
DURING THE FLOOD
Stay away. Do not drive or walk into water that is flowing across low water crossings, bridges, or roadways. If you come upon a flooded road, turn around and go another way. Heed all warnings and street barricades-- if you go around one, you are subject to a fine.
These areas are especially dangerous because:
- As little as six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet or move your car.
- More people drown in their cars than anywhere else.
- The road may be washed out below the water surface.
- Your car may stall or get stuck in the water, and then get pushed off the road.
- Once off the road, cars often start to roll, making escape impossible.
- Do not go near downed power lines and electrical wires. Electrocution is another major source of deaths in floods.
- Move to a safer area. Evacuate your house if instructed to do so. Follow emergency instructions. It is much safer and easier to evacuate before flood waters become too deep. If the waters start to rise inside your house before you have evacuated, retreat to the second floor, attic, or roof. Take dry clothing, a flashlight, and a portable radio with you. Then, wait for help. Don't try to swim to safety; wait for rescuers to come to you.
AFTER THE FLOOD
- Call your agent. If your home, apartment, or business has suffered damage, call the insurance company that handles your flood insurance policy right away to initiate a claim. Most insurance companies will require repair estimates from a contractor. If Central Virginia has been declared a federal disaster area by the President, immediately call the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) at 1-800-462-9029 to report your flood-related loss. You may qualify for Federal low interest loans and grants for housing assistance and replacement of household goods and clothing.
Note: File two reports with FEMA if you are self-employed and your office is based in your flooded home.
Document damage - Take color photographs or video of any damage resulting from the flood. Before entering a flooded building.
Check for structural damage - Don't go in if there is any chance of the building collapsing. Do not use matches, cigarette lighters, or any other open flames, since gas may be trapped inside. Instead, use a flashlight to light your way. Keep power off until an electrician has inspected your system for safety. Look out for animals and snakes. Animals lose their homes in floods too. They may seek shelter in yours.
Boil water - Until local authorities proclaim your water supply to be safe, boil water for drinking and food preparation. Water should be boiled vigorously for five minutes before using. Careful cleaning
Unhealthy Water - Flood waters pick up sewage and chemicals from roads, farms, and factories. If your home has been flooded, protect your family's health by cleaning up your house right away. Throw out foods and medicines that may have come into contact with flood water. Be careful walking around. After a flood, steps and floors are often slippery with mud and covered with debris, including nails and broken glass.
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