Viewpoint: Spring is coming and with it, floods
Whether Punxsutawney Phil’s early spring prediction is correct or not, warmer temperatures will eventually come and melt the blanket of snow winter gave us this year. Many areas of Region VIII have an above-average snowpack and it seems that nearly every week this winter has included a major snowstorm in our area.
The water from melting snow will flow into streams, rivers and lakes…and potentially for some, your homes. Not much can be done to avoid a flood when water levels rise. You can, however, take steps now to minimize how much a flood affects you.
An inch of water in your home is enough to cause significant damage. Drywall will need to be replaced, water heaters or furnaces can be damaged, and if water reaches your outlets you could need extensive electrical work. On top of that, you may need to deal with damage to priceless items like family heirlooms or hard to replace documents.
One way to minimize the impacts of a flood is to look around your home and visualize what flood waters would do to your belongings. Transfer items stored in cardboard boxes to waterproof tubs, move valuables higher in your home and make digital backups of important documents.
Another way to enable you to recover from a flood more quickly is flood insurance. Just like you don’t have to be in a floodplain to get flooded, you don’t have to be in a floodplain to get flood insurance. Visit floodsmart.gov to learn more, then talk to your insurance agent to learn about your options and see what is right for you. But don’t wait, because a flood insurance policy through the National Flood Insurance Program takes 30 days to take effect. And with spring right around the corner, if you are looking to buy a policy the time to do it is now.
Fortunately, time is still on our side and you as a citizen aren’t alone in this fight. We at FEMA are working closely with our state and local partners to monitor the changing conditions. Communities are already taking steps to prepare, with many being experienced in this battle. At the federal level, our partners at the National Weather Service will be providing frequent flood updates, and when needed flood warnings for areas at risk. And the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be ready with their resources to help with the flood fight.
The spring flood threat is real, but it doesn’t need to cause fear. A few simple steps can keep you in control of your situation. Stay informed of current conditions. Take steps to limit the impact flooding will have on your home and property. Talk with your insurance agent to see if you are protected against flooding. Being ready means that both you and your community can bounce back more quickly should a flood happen.
Lee dePalo is the regional administrator for FEMA Region VIII, which serves Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.