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 the risk of the hazards we face. Through the efforts of the Hazard Mitigation Planning Committee which 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 risks. 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:
- 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
Permits are required for most work on the floodplains of streams and rivers throughout the State. Visit our floodplain permitting page for the State of Iowa to learn more about the State's permitting process, checklists for project design, and instructions on the online application system called PERMT.
Please keep in mind, however, the permits are still required through Story County in addition to State requirements.