Flooding persists across the Midwest this week as large storms continue to batter the region. Watches and warnings have been issued from Illinois to Texas. Here are six ways to prepare ahead of time if your farm is in a flood-prone area.
1. Reduce Your Risk
In many cases flooding can’t be prevented, but preparing your property may buy you some time or reduce the severity of the flood damage.
Installing a sump pump in your basement is a great first step. If you already have one, be sure to check it is functioning properly before a big storm. Add a battery-operated backup in case the power goes out.
Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clear of debris and directing water away from your home. Remember to replace or reposition downspout extensions each time you mow. It’s important to keep excess water away from your foundation.
If you have a flood-prone basement, consider placing appliances like your freezer, washer, and dryer on platforms to keep them out of the water. Storing smaller items in metal or plastic containers may be safer than cardboard boxes.
2. Plan with your Family and Employees
Develop an emergency plan and be sure to communicate it with your family members and employees. Having this available digitally may make it easier to find and follow in times of crisis.
Iowa State University Extension recommends your farm emergency plan includes this information:
Warning signals for disasters in the area
Emergency broadcast sources
Farm site map with buildings and structures, access routes, barriers, livestock location, hazardous substances location, electric, gas, and water shutoff locations.
Emergency phone number list
3. Keep Documents Safe
Make sure important documents like deeds and insurance paperwork are stored in a safe, dry place. It’s a good idea to keep digital copies of these documents as a backup.
According to Iowa State Extension, the National Archives recommends a 3-2-1 rule. That means you should make three copies of each document. Copies should be stored in two formats, such as paper and digital, and one copy should be kept at a different physical location. When you make copies of official documents, be sure to note where to get replacements.
4. Care for Pets and Animals
In a flood situation, there’s often not enough time or space to evacuate all your pets and livestock. Many shelters do not allow pets, so be sure to include them in your evacuation plan.
Do your best to ensure livestock you’re leaving behind has extra feed and a source of clean drinking water.
5. Be Ready to Evacuate
If flooding is likely, pack essentials ahead of time to make the evacuation process less stressful. Be sure to include an ample supply of medications and appropriate coats and boots. Plan your evacuation route ahead of time. If you do encounter flooded roads as you evacuate, remember: Turn around, don’t drown.
6. Check Your Insurance Coverage
Most homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover flood damage, so double-check your policy. A flood insurance policy may be appropriate. Be sure to take action before the storm since a flood policy takes 30 days to go into effect from application to payment.