Flooding can occur quickly and without much warning. Rains, winter snow and ice thaws can cause flooding and affect homes, property and, most importantly, New Yorkers’ safety - NYS Office of Emergency Management
- Inland Flooding
- Flood: Know Your Terms
- Act Now To Be Prepared
- During the Flood
- Travel with Care
- After the Flood
- The Hidden Danger - Low Water Crossing
- Preventing Illness - Sanitation and Hygiene
- Emergency Supply Kit
- Emergency Plan
- Tips to Prevent Flooding
Severe thunderstorms, hurricanes and coastal storms produce large amounts of rain which could lead to inland flooding. The Dutchess County Office of Emergency Management encourages you to take the following actions to protect yourself and your family:
- Learn your vulnerability to flooding now by determining the elevation of your property. Evaluate your insurance coverage; as construction grows around areas, floodplains change. If you are in a flood area, consider what mitigation measure you can do in advance.
- In high flood-prone areas, keep materials on hand like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, plastic garbage bags, lumber, shovels, work boots and gloves. Call your local emergency management office to learn how to construct proper protective measures around your home.
- Be aware of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood, so you or your evacuation routes are not cut off. If you choose or are told to evacuate, move to a safe area before access is cut off by flood water.
- Monitor local radio / television broadcasts or NOAA Weather Radio to learn of the storm’s progress and for information from emergency officials.
- Avoid driving into water of unknown depth. Moving water can quickly sweep your vehicle away.
- Restrict children from playing in flooded areas.
- After a flood, you should test drinking water for potability and wells should be pumped out and the water tested before drinking.
- Do not use fresh food that has come in contact with floodwaters. Wash canned goods that come in contact with floodwaters with soap and hot water.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
Flood: Know Your Terms
Familiarize yourself with these terms to help identify a flood hazard:
Flood Watch: Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
Flash Flood Watch: Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.
Flood Warning: Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
Flash Flood Warning: A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
Act Now To Be Prepared
- Develop and practice a 'family escape' plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
- Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
- Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers.
- Plan what to do with your pets.
- Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
- Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
- Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
- Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.
During the Flood
- Monitor the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Weather Radio or your local radio and TV station broadcasts for information.
- If internet is available visit official weather web sites to stay informed. http://www.erh.noaa.gov/aly/ or http://www.weather.gov/
- If local officials advise evacuation, do so promptly.
- If directed to a specific location, go there.
- Know where the shelters are located.
- Bring outside possessions inside the house or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects.
- If there is time, move essential items and furniture to upper floors in the house.
- Disconnect electrical appliances that cannot be moved. DO NOT touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
- If you are told to shut off water, gas, or electrical services before leaving, do so.
Secure your home: lock all doors and windows.
Travel With Care
- Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.
- Make sure you have enough fuel for your car.
- Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sight see.
- As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts for the latest information.
- Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
- Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
- DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
- DO NOT under estimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
- If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately.
After The Flood
- Listen to the radio or TV for instructions from local officials.
- Wait until an area has been declared safe before entering it. Be careful driving, since roads may be damaged and power lines may be down.
- Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank. Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.
- Upon entering the building, use a battery-powered flashlight. DO NOT use an open flame as a source of light. Gas may be trapped inside.
- When inspecting the building, wear rubber boots and gloves.
- Watch for electrical shorts and live wires before making certain the main power switch is off.
- DO NOT turn on electrical appliances until an electrician has checked the system and appliances.
- Throw out any medicine or food that has had contact with flood waters.
- Test drinking water for portability. Wells should be pumped out and water tested for drinking.
- If the public water system is declared 'unsafe' by health officials, water for drinking and cooking should be boiled vigorously for 10 minutes.
- Shovel out mud with special attention to cleaning heating and plumbing systems.
- Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned as soon as possible. Structural damage can occur if drained too quickly. When surrounding waters have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages, about 1/3 of the water volume each day.
The Hidden Danger - Low-Water Crossing
- Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related!
- When driving your automobile during flood conditions, look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges and low areas.
- Even the largest and heaviest of vehicles will float. Two feet of water will carry most cars away.
- As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Do not drive through flowing water!
- A hidden danger awaits motorists where a road without a bridge dips across a creek bed. Motorists develop false confidence when they normally or frequently pass through a dry low-water crossing.
- Road beds may have been scoured or even washed away during flooding creating unsafe driving conditions.
- Those who repeatedly drive through flooded low-water crossings may not recognize the dangers of a small increase in the water level.
- Driving too fast through low water will cause the vehicle to hydroplane and lose contact with the road surface.
- Visibility is limited at night increasing the vulnerability of the driver to any hidden dangers.
- Heed all flood and flash flood watches and warnings.
- Remain aware of road conditions!
Preventing Illness: Sanitation and Hygiene
- Always wash your hands with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected before eating and after toilet use, cleanup activities or handling items contaminated by floodwater or sewage.
- Flood waters may contain fecal matter from sewage systems, agricultural and industrial waste and septic tanks. If you have open cuts or sores exposed to the floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and disinfected or boiled water. Apply antibiotic ointment to reduce the risk of infection.
- Do not allow children to play in floodwater or with toys that are contaminated by floodwater.
- If floodwaters are covering your septic tank and leach field you should not use any flush toilets attached to the system.
Preventing Mold Growth
- Moisture that enters buildings from leaks or flooding accelerates mold growth. Molds can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions and continue to damage materials after the storm.
- Remove standing water from your home or office. Remove wet materials promptly and ventilate; use fans and dehumidifiers if possible.
- If mold growth has already occurred, it is best to have a professional remove it.
- Individuals with known mold allergies or asthma should never clean or remove mold.
- Be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants, as combining certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury or death.
Additional Household Cleanup
- Walls, hard-surfaced floors and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of 1 cup of bleach to five gallons of water.
- Thoroughly disinfect surfaces that come in contact with food and children’s play areas.
- Wash all linens and clothing in hot water or dry-clean.
- Items that cannot be washed or dry-cleaned, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture, must be air dried in the sun and sprayed thoroughly with a disinfectant.
- Steam-clean all carpeting.
- Replace fiberboard, insulation and disposable filters in your heating/cooling system.
- Wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during clean-up.
- It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items soaked by sewage or floodwaters may be unhealthy. Materials that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded.
Garbage: Storage, Collection and Disposal
- As you start cleaning, you will likely produce a great deal of garbage. Local authorities will tell you where and when collection will occur. Garbage invites insects and rodents. Rodents, in particular, may be looking for food because the flood may have destroyed their homes and normal food source.
- Store any garbage in watertight, rodent/insect-proof containers with tight-fitting covers. Use plastic liners if available.
- Put garbage in a convenient location but not near your well.
- Heavy rains and flooding can lead to an increase in mosquitoes that may be infected with West Nile virus. To protect against mosquitoes, remain diligent in your personal mosquito protection efforts. Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. For many species, this is during the dusk and dawn hours.
- Wear clothing that covers most of your skin.
- Repellents containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide), picaridin or OLE (oil of lemon eucalyptus) are options. Use strictly according to label instructions. Do not allow children to apply repellents and avoid applying repellents to the hands of young children.
- Check around your home to rid the area of standing water.
- Eliminate other breeding sites—remove old tires and turn over or remove empty plastic containers.
Emergency Supplies Kit
- Food and Water
- Bottled water – one gallon per person per day
- Ready-to-eat canned foods – vegetables, fruits, beans, meat, fish, poultry, pasta, soup, juice
- Milk – powdered, canned or shelf-stable brick pack
- High energy foods – peanut butter, jelly, nuts, dried meat (for example, jerky), granola, trail mix
- Staples – sugar, salt, pepper, instant coffee, tea bags, cocoa
- Instant and small children’s needs – baby food, formula, disposable diapers
- Specialty food – for elderly or people on special diets
- Pet food (if needed)
Health & Hygiene
- Prescription medication – at least one week’s supply
- First Aid kit
- Pre-moistened hand wipes – towelettes or baby wipes
- Disinfectant no-rinse hand soap
- A list of family physicians, important medical information and the style & serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers
- A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes for each family member
- Sleeping bags, bedding or blankets for each family member
- An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses and solution (be sure to check the expiration dates)
- Identification, credit cards / traveler’s checks / cash, and photocopies of important family documents including home insurance information
Household Supplies & Equipment
- One gallon liquid chlorine bleach
- Battery-powered radio or television
- Extra, fresh batteries for radio, television and flashlights
- Manual can opener
- Plastic bags – zip sealing, garbage
- Fire extinguisher (small canister A-B-C type)
- Food thermometer – able to measure temperature from 0 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit
- Hammer and nails
- Utility knife
- Work gloves
- Duct tape
- Electrical tape
- Clean-up supplies
- Dust masks
- Disinfecting spray
- Paper towels
- Rags (to clean with)
- Rubber gloves
- Scrub brush
- Trash bags
- Meet with your family members and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events including fire, flood, severe weather, hazardous spills, and terrorism.
- Discuss how you and your family will respond to each possible emergency. Know how to contact all family members at all times. Think 24/7 and 365.
- Draw a floor plan of your home. If possible, mark two escape routes from each room.
- Select two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency such as fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home (a real possibility during the day when most adults are at work and children are at school).
- Identify an out-of-town friend or relative as your “emergency family check-in contact” for everyone to call if the family gets separated. Make sure all family members have the correct phone number. It is often easier to call out-of-town during an emergency than within the affected area.
- Post emergency contact numbers near all telephones. Include local police, fire and health departments, poison control, your children’s schools, doctors, child/senior care providers and insurance agents.
- Have your family learn basic safety and first aid measures.
- Keep family records in a waterproof and fireproof safe.
- Have emergency supplies on hand.
- Teach adults how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at main switches. If, for any reason, you do turn off natural gas service to your home, call your natural gas utility to restore service. DO NOT attempt to restore gas service yourself.
- Make arrangements for your pets. Most shelters do not allow pets. Prior to an emergency, contact your county or local emergency management office and ask them where you could leave your pet. Have identification, leash and proof of vaccination for all pets. Have current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
- Practice the plan!
Tips to Prevent Flooding
Remove leaves and other blockage
- Keeping drains clear of leaves, snow, ice and other debris is the best way to protect your property.
- Completely remove leaves and debris from storm drains so they will not come back during the next storm.
- Ensure that drainpipes are not obstructed
Maintain gutters and downspouts
- Clean your gutters and the drainage downspouts attached to your roof twice a year. Just one wind or rainstorm can clog a well-flowing drainage system.
- Direct flows from downspouts away from your home, without discharging flows to adjacent properties.
Maintain your drainage systems
- Check your home's drainage system. Maintaining the drainage system on private property is the owner's responsibility.
- If you live at the base of a hill or on a cliff, ensure that drainage and retaining walls are in good shape.
- Preventative planting can also help reduce the chance of a mud slide or flooding.
- Don't put grass clippings, leaves or other debris into the drains, ditches, creeks, culverts, gutters or ravines.
Assess your yard
- Make sure the ground slopes away from your home. The area within 10 feet of your home should slope away from your house.
- Inspect your roof. Inspect for leaks or damage to rain gutters that could cause a flat roof to flood.
- Know where your shut offs are. If flooding occurs, you’ll need to know how to shut off electricity, gas and water at main switches and valves.
For more information on flooding and related topics, visit New York State Department of Health Flood Preparedness at: http://nyhealth.gov/environmental/emergency/flood/