Digital First: How to plan for flooding and other disasters

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Jackson, Miss. — With forecasters predicting a rain-soaked weekend, emergency management officials are encouraging you to take the prior precautions. Following a few simple steps can save the lives of your loved ones.

First of all, you should craft a plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers emergency plan fill-in forms and a number of practical planning resources at https://go.usa.gov/xyqyG. Once you have your plan, you should rehearse it.

Things you can do before the next flood:

  • Reduce the risk of damage from flooding by elevating critical utilities, such as electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems.
  • Waterproof your basement. Make sure your sump pump is working. Install a battery-operated backup in case of power failure.
  • Clear debris from gutters and downspouts.

Consider what you’ll need to do in case your family has to leave home for a temporary evacuation center:

  • Plan and practice a flood evacuation route. Ask someone located in another city or state to be your “family contact” in an emergency, and make sure everyone knows the contact’s address and phone number.
  • Build an emergency supply kit. Food, bottled water, first aid supplies, medicines and a battery-operated radio should be ready to go when you are. Visit Ready.gov for a complete disaster supply checklist.
  • Make a pet plan. Many evacuation shelters do not allow pets. What will you do with Fido if the family is evacuated?
  • Know how to shut off the gas, power and water to your home.
  • Have some emergency cash tucked away; ATMs could be offline after a disaster.
  • Never have less than half a tank of gas in your car. If you must evacuate, gas pumps may not be working.

Check your insurance policy to be sure you have enough coverage:

  • Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, but flood insurance is available for homeowners, renters and business owners through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • You can probably purchase flood insurance from your insurance agent. If your agent doesn’t sell flood insurance, call the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661 for assistance.
  • Take photos and videos to conduct a household inventory and keep a record of all major household items and valuables. These documents are critically important when filing insurance claims.

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