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- Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Your Property
Protect Yourself, Your Family, and Your Property
Flooding cannot always be stopped, and in many cases should not be prevented, but flood hazards can be reduced. Flood mitigation includes steps that can be taken to minimize or reduce the impacts of flooding on people and human development. Different mitigation measures are appropriate in different situations. Review the categories below to see how you can prepare for flooding and determine mitigation strategies appropriate for your property and family.
Story County is part of the Story County Multi-Jurisdictional Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan available at http://www.storycountyiowa.gov/966/Story-County-Hazard-Mitigation-Plan (the document is large so please be patient as it downloads). The best way to save lives and protect property is to reduce our risk to the hazards we face. Through the efforts of the Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee that included representatives from most of the communities and school districts in Story County, we developed the Story County Multi-Jurisdictional Multi-Hazard Mitigation Plan. It's a tool to help jurisdictions identify the risk they face and develop strategies to reduce these risk. It also meets the requirements of the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA200) which qualifies participating jurisdictions to be eligible to receive pre-disaster mitigation funds that may be made available in the wake of federally-declared disasters.
- What to do BEFORE a flood
- What to do DURING a flood
- What to do AFTER a flood
- Post-Flood Operating Procedures
KNOW YOUR FLOOD HAZARD
Are you in a Special Flood Hazard Area? Visit Know Your Flood Hazard to learn more.
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH EVACUATION ROUTES & PICKUP POINTS
KNOW HOW TO STAY INFORMED
Local radio and television stations are adept at keeping the public informed, but consider purchasing a NOAA Weather radio since these devices receive information directly from the National Weather Service. Weather radios are easy to find in hardware, electronics, or big-box stores. Stock up on batteries or purchase a hand-crank radio in case you must evacuate or power is lost. Additionally, consider subscribing to e-notification services which inform you anytime an emergency happens in your area.
KNOW HOW YOU WILL COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR FAMILY
Do all your family members have mobile phones? For elderly families, consider purchasing an easy-to-use cell phone and help them practice using it before they need it in an emergency. Keep important phone numbers in your wallet in case your cell phone is lost or can't be recharged. Develop a plan on where to meet and what to do if cell phones can't be recharged and other communication is lost.
In an easy-to-carry bag or box, store clothing, personal items, non-perishable food, bottled water, copies of prescriptions, medications, glasses, batteries, legal documents, insurance policies, important phone numbers, irreplaceable items, etc. in case you must leave your home. Be prepared with a full tank of gas in your vehicle to ensure you will be able to evacuate at a moment's notice.
Don't forget about your pets! Pack for them too and develop a plan on how to retrieve them if you're not at home when a flood is imminent or strikes.
LEARN HOW YOU CAN PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY
FEMA has many publications to help you protect your home or business in their Floodplain Management Publications site. Additionally, local libraries throughout Story County keep up-to-date copies of the following publications:
- Above the Flood: Elevating Your Floodprone House, FEMA-347
- Answers to Questions About the National Flood Insurance Program, F-084
- Elevated Residential Structures, FEMA-54
- Protecting Building Utilities From Flood Damage, FEMA-P-348
- Protecting Floodplain Resources, FEMA-268
- Reducing Damage from Localized Flooding, FEMA-511
PREPARE TO EVACUATE
Pack your vehicle with items you prepared in case evacuation is necessary. If time allows, elevate valuables and items that are prone to mold or would be destroyed by flood waters. Place these items in the top level of your home or business, or on top of cabinets or other high areas.
DEPLOY EMERGENCY MEASURES TO PROTECT YOUR PROPERTY
If time permits, emergency measures can be implemented to reduce flood damage potential. Sandbags, temporary flood barriers, and flood wrapping systems are also common emergency flood protection measure than can be deployed. If these practices are intended to be used, sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber should all be readily available at the property.
LISTEN TO LOCAL NEWS
Stay informed whether evacuation is advised or mandated and which roads to avoid if you need to drive somewhere.
DO NOT DRIVE THROUGH A FLOODED AREA
More people drown in cars than anywhere else; do not drive around barriers.
DO NOT WALK THROUGH FLOWING WATER
Currents can be deceptive; six inches of water can knock you off your feet.
STAY AWAY FROM POWER LINES AND ELECTRICAL WIRES
If your house is about to be flooded, turn off the power at the service box. Electrical current can travel through water. Electrocution is the second leading cause of death during floods.
BE ALERT TO GAS LEAKS
Turn off the gas to your house before it floods. If you smell gas, report it to your gas company. Do not use candles, lanterns, or open flames if you smell gas or are unsure if your gas has been shut off.
KEEP CHILDREN AND PETS AWAY FROM FLOOD WATERS, DITCHES, CULVERTS AND STORM DRAINS
Flood waters can carry unimaginable items that have dislodged themselves. Culverts may suck smaller people and pets into drainage pipes rendering them helpless.
LOOK OUT FOR UNDOMESTICATED ANIMALS, ESPECIALLY SNAKES
Small animals that have been flooded out of their home may seek shelter in yours. Even pets that have been separated from their families may be nervous or frightened and may act uncharacteristically or be unapproachable. Be cautious.
DO NOT USE GAS ENGINES, SUCH AS GENERATORS, OR CHARCOAL FIRES INDOORS DURING POWER OUTAGES
Carbon monoxide exhaust can pose serious health hazards and cause death.
DO NOT ENTER A HOME OR BUSINESS UNTIL IT HAS BEEN CHECKED TO ENSURE IT'S SAFE
In addition to structural damage, there may be dangerous debris, electrical current, or gas leaks. If you're unsure, please your local utility providers servicing your home or business.
CONTACT YOUR INSURANCE AGENT
If you have damage to your home or business you may be able to file a claim. Be sure to have your policy or policy number available. Give your agent current contact information in case you are not able to remain in your home. Taking photos and making a list of damaged items will assist your agent in getting you the highest reimbursement possible.
Throw away food that has been contaminated and remove wet carpeting, bedding, paper, etc. as quickly as possible to avoid mold. Clean up EVERYTHING that has been wet since flood water will be contaminated with sewage and other chemicals which pose severe health threats. Visit the State of Iowa Department of Public Health for information on mold or flood-related disease and precautions.
Post-Flood Operating Procedures
Story County has adopted the following procedures to follow after flooding has been experienced in unincorporated Story County.
- Coordinate with local emergency management, police, fire department, rescue squad and other community agencies or employees who may be involved in flood evacuation to identify specific areas which have flooded.
- Immediately after a flood event, inspect the flood damaged areas and determine which structures have been damaged. On each flood damaged structure, post a notice which clearly indicates that a development/building permit is required prior to the initiation of any repair of the flood-damaged structure.
- On an individual, structure-by-structure basis, the floodplain manager will determined when each structure was constructed, whether it is a Pre-FIRM or Post-FIRM and whether it was constructed in compliance with the effective flood elevations. Each structure which is not compliant with the current effective flood elevation requirements will be evaluated to determine whether it has been substantially damaged and compare the fair market value (including labor and materials) of the total repair or improvement against pre-improvement, fair market value of the structure. The tax assessed value of the structure (excluding land) may be used in place of the fair market value. If the structure has been substantially damaged by the flood, it must be brought into full compliance with the elevation, anchoring, and other flood protection measures specified by the ordinance.
- Allow the property owner, at his/her own expense, to provide an appraisal of the property which represents the current, fair market value of the structure. In the case of a building which has incurred substantial damage, the appraisal should reflect the value immediately prior to the damage. Story County will only accept appraisals performed by trained, qualified, State-licensed real estate appraisers.
- If the appraisal exceeds the tax assessed value of the structure by more than fifteen (15) percent, Story County will have the property owner's appraisal report reviewed by an independent review appraiser to assure the value established by the appraisal represents the fair market value of the structure. If the review appraiser believes that the appraisal report supports a value greater than the tax assessed value, then the appraised value may be used to evaluate whether the proposed improvements or repairs to the structure would constitute a substantial improvement.
- The value of the proposed improvement must also represent the current, fair market value of the work to be performed. If the structure has been damaged, the total value of the damage must be determined, regardless of whether the proposed owner proposed to make complete repairs or only repair a portion of the damage. Story County requires submission of a complete itemization of the cost of all the proposed repairs or improvements.
- If the structure has been damaged, Story County may use the itemized insurance adjuster's report to establish the value of the damage. If there was no insurance coverage, prior to issuing any permit to repair the damage, Story County must determine the value of the total amount of the damage. In order to do this, Story County may require the property owner to provide an itemized breakdown of the costs to repair all the damage, prepared by a local, licensed building contractor. Story County should inspect the property and review this cost estimate to determine if it fairly represents the total damage and repair costs. Story County may hire a qualified building contractor to review the cost estimates.
- Following a flood or other damage in a floodprone area, the Story County Floodplain Manager should be frequent (preferably daily) physical inspections of the flood damaged area to assure that repair work is not being performed without a permit. Story County should issue a dated, numbered permit, and require it to be posted at the building repair site. Police, Sheriff's Department, Public Works Department employees and other community officials and employees should be requested to report to the Floodplain Manager any work activities being performed on buildings without a posted permit.
- After each flood, tornado, wind storm or other event, it is recommended that Story County publish a notice in the local newspaper to remind property owners that permits are required to repair structural damage resulting from a flood, fire, tornado, winter storm or any other event. Property owners should be directed to the Planning and Development Department for assistance and information concerning a repair permit.
- Periodically, and especially after any flood event, Story County should publicize (in a prominent location in the newspaper(s)), a notice, advertisement, or news article to remind residents that flood hazard areas exist and have been identified and mapped for Story County. Direct residents to the County Outreach and Special Projects Manager for the flood maps and offer assistance to help residents identify their property location relative to the floodplain. It is recommended that the notice or news article also discuss that Story County is a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program and that structures and contents flood insurance coverage is available to any property owner, regardless of the property location. The article or notice should also remind renters that they may purchase flood insurance coverage on their personal property and contents.
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