How to Prepare Your Home for a Flood

animated breaking wall resulting in flood GIF

Unless you are intentionally flooding your house like the very stupid kidney bean above, you can’t always predict when a flood will hit, or the amount of damage it will inflict on your home. So it’s best to be vigilant, lest your wallet and mental health pay the ultimate price. Here’s what you need to do to prepare your home for a flood.

Get Flood Insurance

Even if you confirm with FEMA’s flood maps that you don’t live in a flood zone, getting flood insurance is the best way to lessen the financial blow of a flood. Most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. (Shocking, we know.) Secure a policy through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to get the coverage you need.

Take Inventory

Along with being properly insured, make sure you take inventory of your home’s items, everything from valuables like jewelry and electronics to clothing and home furnishings. Keep this inventory list with your emergency kit. These items might be covered by your flood policy, but you can’t claim them unless you can prove you had them!

Prepare When Flooding Isn’t Imminent

The best time to prepare is right now… unless you’re reading this because you didn’t prepare anything before the flood warning hit the airwaves. In that case, the best time to prepare was a month ago. But we must soldier on.

First, the easy stuff! Keep an eye on your street during rainy days. If any storm drains are not draining quickly, you may want to contact public works to request cleaning or repair. Blocked gutters and drains on your own property can also make floods worse, so be sure to keep them clean.

If you have the cash, consider major fixes such as raising your home, installing a sump pump with a battery, or even raising critical parts of your home’s infrastructure like furnaces, electrical panels, and water heaters. Check for foundational cracks in your basement while you’re at it. You can also create a barrier in any location water is likely to enter your property. For example, if you have a creek, you might want to add a levee, flood wall, or berm between the water and your home.

If you’re less excited about permanent changes to your property, you can map out a flood strategy in advance that can be implemented when the time comes. Sandbags can be stored filled or unfilled. Calculate how many bags and tarps you’ll need to cover your external doorways, air vents, etc to limit leaks if flood waters rise. Don’t forget your indoor drains and toilets. We didn’t know either! This lovely Australian man has all the information you need.

Keep in mind that your local government may make sand and sandbags available at no cost if a flood is on the way, but it’s a good idea to have your own on hand so you can act as quickly as possible.

When Flooding is Imminent

While you’re setting up the sandbags, the rest of your family can work on further fortifying your home. Clear your outdoor space of items that may be carried away or create a hazard if hidden by flood waters. Move valuable items to higher floors to prevent damage. Make sure all doors and windows form a good seal when closed. Secure any critical documents like passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies in waterproof containers. Copies of these documents should be in waterproof bags in your go bag as well.

Keep an eye on weather alerts while you prepare your home, and evacuate immediately if ordered to do so, even if your home is not fully protected. Your life is much more important than your carpet, and your flood insurance will be your peace of mind.

Speaking of keeping an eye on things, how exactly will we know if a flood is on the way?

Car in flooded residential street, home preparedness for flood
This was not a successful evacuation.

About the Authors

It takes a village! We are researching, writing and fact checking as a family. Collaboration is the name of the game, whether we’re running from a zombie horde or finding the best way to turn a complex concept into a deliciously digestible set of bullet points.

Katherine Esperanza is a Los Angeles based writer. When she's not conjuring new queer slice-of-life short stories, she's busy watching the newest films, out at queer shows, supporting queer artists, or just checking out the queer community as a whole.

A former international non-profiteer, small business owner, and co-op'er, Katherine is delighted to help introduce more leftist politics into the disaster preparedness/prepper sphere, which is currently far too right-wing.