6 Steps to Prepare Your Business for a Flash Flood

So far in each month of 2017, we’ve already seen significant flooding and flash flooding in many parts of the country.

In January, severe storms began in Texas and pushed all the way into South Carolina.1

In February, parts of Utah, Idaho and Washington saw flooding and severe winter storms causing a major disasters declaration. 2

And most recently, just earlier this month, we saw floods and deadly storms throughout the South and Midwest.3

And in addition to the possibility of more unusual weather events, peak spring snow melts and thawing are still ahead in many states. That’s why now is a great time to prepare your business for flooding or flash flooding, regardless of the outlook in your area.

If You Have Time to Prepare: 6 Key Steps

As you’ll see in the next section, if you don’t take time to prepare for flooding, there’s not a lot you can do once flooding begins. Taking a bit of time now could help you better protect employees and customers from ending up in dangerous situations as they try to evacuate—and also ensure that your key business documents and assets will be safe. Here are some important steps to take, if you aren’t facing dangerous circumstances:

  • Plan an evacuation route—Since flooding in the area can quickly make roads impassable, try to determine which roads should provide the best route away from danger during a flood event. 
  • Create an emergency kit—At minimum, your kit should include large containers for clean water, several days supply of non-perishable food, a first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, water purifying supplies, and personal hygiene supplies.4
  • Carefully consider insurance/flood insurance—Whether or not you are in a known flood plain, you may want to consider flood insurance. The majority of insurance companies view rain water that has hit the ground as flooding, for example, so it’s important to carefully consider how rainwater incursion could impact your business. 
  • Protect business-critical information—Keep backup copies of important documents, such as insurance documents and vendor contact information, in an area that won’t be impacted by flooding. 
  • Ready your building—Consider what you can do to protect key assets and your building. For example, at a minimum, regularly clean gutters and storm drains. If your building has a basement, determine if anything stored in it is particularly valuable. If so, either move it, or have a plan to retrieve key items, should the need arise. If there are fuel tanks in the basement, be sure they are firmly anchored according to local code. If you think a sump pump could come in handy, it’s a good idea to purchase one before flooding is on the horizon and stores are out of them. 
  • Ideally, create a comprehensive emergency plan—If you’re ready to take on the above steps, then you’re well on your way to creating a comprehensive handbook for responding to all kinds of disasters. It will be easy to use this quick start guide to keep track of all of the important details and continue to build out your disaster plan as time allows. 

Imminent Flooding Action Plan

If you are in an area where flooding or flash flooding has been an afterthought, and are suddenly facing the possibility of a flood, or you simply haven’t prepared, your top priority should be the safety of customers and employees. Here are some key steps to protecting people and your business:

  • Pay attention—In addition to listening to local weather alerts, keep an eye out in your area for signs of trouble. 
  • Don’t wait to move or act—If there is a chance of flash flooding that could impact your business or leave people trapped in your business, heed official advice for evacuations or other measures and carefully consider the best evacuation routes. Remember as little as six inches of fast moving water can sweep a person away, and two feet of running water can move a vehicle.5
  • If you have time, grab key documents and information—Hopefully, you have backups of key insurance and business information at another safe site. If not, and the circumstances allow, try to get your most important documents and information to a safe place. 

“Unusual” Seems to be the Norm, so be Ready

If you’ve been paying attention to stories about significant weather events around the country, then you’ve probably noticed that the words “unusual” “record levels” or “near record levels” are increasingly common. Don’t let an unusual weather event catch your business off guard. Take some time to start preparations today.

1 https://weather.com/storms/severe/news/severe-storms-heavy-rain-south-early-january-2017
2 http://floodlist.com/america/usa/usa-president-declares-major-disasters-winter-storms-floods-washington-utah-idaho
3 http://floodlist.com/america/usa/floods-arkansas-missouri-april-may-2017
4 Key Facts About Flood Readiness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
5 Floods, Ready.gov.  

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