Top Five Steps to Hurricane Flood Preparedness

National Hurricane Center and FLASH® Highlight Five Reminders for Flood Preparedness As Peak Hurricane Season Begins

Additional photos, videos and flood tips

Flooding is the nation’s costliest and deadliest natural disaster with hurricane flooding topping the list. On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused 72 U.S. deaths and $60 billion in damage, including more than $6.7 billion in flood insurance claims. As the most active part of hurricane season begins and the threat of flooding increases, the National Hurricane Center and Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® offer these five steps to take before floods strike.

Step #1: Don’t Overlook the Threat of Flooding — Hurricanes Bring Wind, Debris and Water

Hurricane winds and windborne debris can cause catastrophic damage, however wind is just one part of the risk. Whether families live on the coast or thousands of miles inland, hurricane and tropical storm flooding pose significant risk.

Step #2: Understand Evacuation — Now is the Time to Know Your Zone

First, know your zone and who will give the official evacuation orders. Second, make a plan that meets fits your needs. Third, if you can shelter in place, evaluate the ability of your home to withstand hurricane-force winds and rain.

Step #3: Avoid the Rush — Prepare Your Family Today

Everyone at risk for hurricanes should have an emergency plan and kit to help survive at least 72 hours after the storm. Taking action now ensures supplies are plentiful and, in the face of a storm, families will have the peace of mind knowing that they are ready.

Step #4: Strengthen the Family Shelter — Protect Your Home from Hurricane Flood Damage

There are options to help keep water out of the home during a hurricane. Floodproofing methods take prior planning and may require the help of professionals. Now is the time to determine flood risk and identify options to reduce that risk.

Step #5: Provide Financial Security — Purchase Flood Insurance

Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover floods, and there is a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective. Families can identify their flood risk, learn about flood insurance options and find a local agent at www.floodsmart.gov.

9 Ways to Prepare for a Hurricane

Leslie Chapman-Henderson is the President and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting protection of lives and property during natural and man-made disasters.

She says, “The more you can prepare prior to a hurricane, the greater your chances are to safely shelter and recover. Taking steps to strengthen your home and preparing your family to evacuate if you live in an evacuation zone will help reduce risk of injury to you and your family, and damage to your home.”

Here are 9 ways to prepare for a hurricane: 

1. Protect doors and windows. Use “approved hurricane shutters or board up with properly installed emergency plywood shutters,” says Chapman-Henderson.

2. Stock up on sandbags in flood zonesSandbags can be useful, says Chapman-Henderson, to reduce water damage to homes and businesses. You can get sandbags in larger quantities for your home or business nationally from Sand Bags To Go.

3. Prepare for different scenarios. You might remain in your home after a disaster or evacuate to a safer location. “Families should pay close attention to and heed evacuation orders from local officials to determine if they can safely stay in their homes or need to go to a safer location,” Chapman-Henderson said. You can better prepare for either scenario by assembling a disaster supply kit that includes three to seven days worth of food and water per family member, cash as ATMs may not be open for many days, a manual can opener, extra required medication, a battery powered radio, First Aid kit, supplies for any pets and flashlights with extra batteries. Replace the water and food supplies every six-months.

4. Protect important documents. Store important family documents, including medical records, insurance papers, social security cards, deeds or mortgages, birth certificates and marriage certificates in a fire and water proof container, says Chapman-Henderson. She also suggests families can scan and keep electronic copies of important documents on a USB drive or as photos on a smartphone.

5. Know your zone. Dennis Feltgen is the Public Affairs Officer and a Meteorologist with NOAA’s National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. He says there are common mistakes to avoid when a hurricane warning is issued including “not knowing if you are located in an evacuation zone and not having a plan on where to go if you are in an evacuation zone.”

6. Get supplies before the hurricane hits. Don’t make the mistake says Feltgen, of searching for the supplies you’ll need once an evacuation order is given, otherwise “you must stand in long lines to get supplies that were readily available weeks ago—and may be gone now.”

7. Involve the whole family in the hurricane plan. Feltgen says, “The creation of a family hurricane plan should involve the entire family. Each member of the family should have a specific assignment in the creation and execution of the plan. For instance, one child could make sure there are batteries for the electronics, another would be in charge of bringing in the small outside furniture. By making it a family plan, the anxiety level is reduced.” Be sure to check FEMA’s website.

8. Don’t forget about pets. Feltgen says plan ahead and have several options for where not only you will go, but also your pets.

9. Practice caution after the hurricane is over. Remember, says Leslie Chapman-Henderson, that danger is still present even after the hurricane is over. She says avoid driving as roads may be blocked and watch for downed power lines. If your home has sustained damage, consider having it inspected by a professional before returning to it including checking that gas lines are not leaking, plumbing is working properly and there are no hazards from damaged trees or unwanted “guests” including rodents, snakes and insects that were blown or washed in by the storm.

Written by Kathleen Miller (source)

Visit flash.org for more information

8 Reasons Why You Need the FLASH Weather Alerts Smartphone App

We asked our users what they value most in the FLASH Weather Alerts app and this list is the outcome.

1. Friends and Family

Personally, I find this app to be extremely valuable if you have friends and family scattered across the globe. I can set all six locations for my mom in DC, my dad in Florida, friends in Colorado and California as well as my current location. Knowing that I will receive National Weather Service alerts before them, gives me a good reason to call and say “Hey get to a safe place because there is a tornado in your area.” Trust me, they will thank you later.

2.    Improved NOAA Weather Radio technology

The same National Weather Service alerts sent to your traditional NOAA weather radio are the same alerts sent to our app. However, the traditional NOAA radio does not allow you to set up to five different locations, calculate your GPS position, or customize alerts based on your lifestyle.

3.    Much cheaper than a NOAA Weather Radio

Google “NOAA Weather Radio” and you will find the price between $30 and $50.

Google “FLASH Weather Alerts” app and you will find a one-time price of $7.99.

4.    Customizable alerts

Having the option to toggle on/off over 100 different NWS alerts gives you piece of mind without alerting you every time the wind blows. If you love to fish, the “Marine” alerts will be prefect for a day of deep-sea fishing. If you love to golf, the “thunderstorms and tornadoes” alerts might be for you.

5.    Mobility

The traditional NOAA radio is comparable in size to the early 90s boom box. Thankfully, in 2013 we are more mobile than ever with smartphones in every pocket, on every desk and in every purse. Essentially this means miniature NOAA Weather radios will be in everywhere and we will all be informed and alert. What a relief!

6.    Text to speech

Without having to open up the FLASH app, you will receive an alert just like a notification. This notification speaks to you even at night so you do not even have to unlock or open your smartphone. My four-year-old niece screamed “MAGIC!” the first time she heard the phone wake up and speak to her. Sometimes the younger generation knows how to sum things up nicely.

7.    Location precision

The fact that traditional NOAA Weather Radio alerts you for severe weather in multiple counties surrounding you and not your specific location can be irritating. The FLASH Weather Alerts app uses your GPS location and proximity to cell towers to provide extremely location specific National Weather Service alerts.

8.    DIY mitigation projects

Despite being number eight on the list, this is what sets the FLASH Weather Alerts app apart from others. Along with the alert features in the app, there are videos that show you how to strengthen your home in preparation for natural disasters. Much like the DIY TV shows you watch, the videos break down important mitigation strategies and projects you can tackle in one hour, one day and one weekend. These projects add value to your home and ultimately keep you one-step ahead of natural disasters.

Former National Hurricane Center director Bill Read’s testimony of the app:

“I was able to put the FLASH Weather Alert app to the test last night as severe thunderstorms crossed our area. The audio alerts for the severe thunderstorm warning and flood advisory were perfect. A neat feature in the app is the screen capture and share, which I used to post this picture during the storm. 2-4″ diameter hail fell along a swath of the county roughly where the pink color was located.”

Share your app experience on the FLASH Facebook page and be entered to win a $25 Home Depot gift card that can go towards a new bird feeder or better yet, supplies to strengthen your home outlined in the DIY mitigation projects.

Hurricane Irene Flood Cleanup Tips

In response to ongoing flooding from Hurricane Irene, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers the following cleanup and safety tips for families returning to flooded homes:

Insurance Tips

  • Damage from floods is typically only covered by flood insurance.
  • Take extensive photos and video for insurance claims.
  • If you need evidence of damaged items, remove them from the home and save swatches (carpet, curtains, etc.) for your insurance adjuster.

Structural Considerations

  • Check for building stability before entry; sticking doors at the top may indicate a ceiling at risk of collapse.
  • Take pictures of damage throughout the building and around the property. Assess stability of plaster and drywall. Bulging or swelling ceilings indicate damage. Press upward on drywall ceilings. If nail heads appear, drywall will need to be re-nailed but can be saved.
  • Check foundation for any loose or missing blocks, bricks, stones or mortar.
  • Empty basement water at a rate of about one-third per day to avoid structural damage to foundation by rapid pressure change.
  • To avoid warping, dry all wood doors by removing from hinges, lying flat with wood shims between and allowing to air dry completely. Remove all knobs and hardware first and disinfect.
  • Remove wet drywall and insulation well above the high water mark.

Home Air Quality Considerations and Mold Prevention

  • Clean and disinfect heating, air conditioning and ventilation ducts before use to avoid spread of airborne germs and mold spores.
  • Use fans and sunlight to dry out interior spaces.
  • Remove all wet carpets, curtains and fabrics. Allow to air dry completely.
  • Wash and disinfect all surfaces including cupboard interiors, doors, walls, window sills and tracks with a solution of one-half cup of bleach or bleach alternative to two gallons of water. Remove sliding doors and windows before cleaning and disinfecting the sliders and the tracks.
  • Clean and disinfect concrete surfaces using a mixture of TSP (trisodium phosphate) and water. Mix according to manufacturer’s directions and apply to entire surface.
  • Remove wallpaper and coverings that came into contact with floodwaters. Don’t repaint or repair until drying is complete and humidity levels in the home have dropped.

Cleanup Tips

  • Liquid cleaners can remove mud, silt and greasy deposits. Liquid detergents work on washable textiles. Use diluted bleach or bleach alternative if item is safe for bleach.
  • To avoid growth of microorganisms, household items should be dried completely before they are brought back into the house. Although the drying process can take a long time, homeowners should be patient because it is necessary to keep a home’s air quality healthy. Some household items may take longer than others to dry such as upholstered furniture and carpets.
  • The National Archives Website has information on how to clean your family treasures. Although it may be difficult to throw certain items away, especially those with sentimental value, experts recommend that if you can’t clean it, you should dispose of it, especially if it has come into contact with water that may contain sewage.