In the wake of hurricane Florence, it’s become more evident than ever that proper protection against hurricanes and its associated wind, rain and flooding is essential. Aside from damages that can be caused by extensive flooding, there are other hazards that can mean disaster for your home, land and other property. Floating debris can cause extensive damage to your property, while forceful flood waters can cause your vehicles and other valuable property like furniture and tools to be carried away.
With six major storms named already this season, and a normal storm season predicted (hint: more on the way1), it’s imperative that homeowners be prepared for hurricanes and flooding. We get a lot of questions about flood insurance, and so in follow-up to our recent article about prepping your property against hurricanes, we’re advising on the five easiest ways to protect your home from costly flood damage.
If a major storm is heading your way, chances are major flooding is going to accompany the high winds and constant rain. Florence dumped nearly 30 inches of rain in some areas and caused an estimated 10 to 60 billion dollars in economic damage2. Avoid being rolled-up into the next statistic by using these five easy tips to prepare and protect your property from flood damage before the next storm hits.
- Don’t wait until right before a storm to get or review your flood insurance. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone that requires flood insurance, it never hurts to have a policy in place; for as little as $350 a year, you can have up to $250,000 in flood coverage. Flood insurance can help cover the substantial damage and cost associated with hurricane level flooding—the upper tier of which can mean bills in the high thousands, just to treat water damage3.
- Make sure that gutters and downspouts are operational and draining water off your property. It’s best to drain water away from your driveway, sidewalks and any other area that could cause damage or create a hazard for yourself or neighbors. You should periodically check the ground underneath your gutter’s downspouts as well; improper installation or leaky downspouts can erode the ground beneath them, causing instability and eventual damage, especially in times of heavy rainfall. A broken downspout means directing water directly into the foundation and surrounding ground of your property, resulting in major damage and money for repairs. The ground under a downspout should also gently slope so that runoff water flows away from and off the property.
- Weigh down vehicles and patio furniture if you can’t move them inside. If flooding is going to be substantial enough to carry away furniture, vehicles and other outdoor fixtures which are too big to move inside or take with you, you should weigh them down with sand bags, water jugs or actual weights. Of course, adding weight to a vehicle or other items doesn’t guarantee they’ll be safe; but it can help ground them and reduce drift, lessening the chance of your valuables being totally lost or causing damage to surrounding property or neighbors.
- Test your sump pump and turn your electricity off. If you’re leaving the area due to a mandatory evacuation or if you want to avoid the storm, make sure that you turn the electricity in your home off on the breaker. By leaving the electricity on, you enable damage to be amplified with possible fires or electrical damage that could result from flooding, or broken and damaged electricity lines.
- Close and lock all doors and windows and remove window air conditioning units. This will not only help protect the inside of your home from high wind damage, but is also a good prevention method for subsequent looting that could occur. Further, valuables and other irreplaceable items like family heirlooms and keepsakes should be moved out of your basement and to the highest floor.
With the normal storm season predicted, it’s never too early to start checking these proactive prevention methods off your list. Next time you’re puttering around your property, check on your spouts and gutters, and it’s just a hunch, but maybe it’s time you cleaned out your basement anyway. Further, if you’re feeling extra task-oriented, speak to a qualified agent to reaffirm that you have proper coverage that’s going to work best for you and your needs when the next hurricane comes to town.