Do you know if you live in a flood zone?

Are you flood ready? The past year has shown that we need to be prepared for anything. Climate change has made extreme weather the new normal, and as the rainy season approaches, we ask that you take some time to make sure you are ready in case of a flood.

While Valley Water’s projects have improved flood protection for more than 100,000 homes, businesses and properties, parts of Santa Clara County are susceptible to flooding every year.

As we all spend more time in our homes during these challenging times, we invite you to use this guide as a resource to follow nine essential steps to GET FLOOD READY and keep your home and business are safe in case of a flood.

Follow these nine essential tips and GET FLOOD READY!

1)           Make an emergency plan

The first step toward being flood-ready is being prepared for any emergency.

Discuss how you will communicate during a disaster with members of your household. Agree on a meeting spot in case you are separated, and make sure everyone knows a safe route to higher ground in the event of flooding. Write all these details down and share a copy with each member. After designing your plan, start putting an emergency kit or “go-bag” together with essential items.

2)           Download disaster and emergency apps

Preparing for emergencies can be overwhelming. If you don’t know where to start, download Santa Clara County’s emergency preparedness app “ReadySCC” on your smartphone from the Apple App Store or Google Play.

3)           Know your flood risk

You don’t have to live next door to a creek to be flooded from storms, backed-up storm drains, and run-off from overtopping creeks. Learn the location of your neighborhood streams and the direction in which they flow. To check whether your house is in a FEMA designated flood zone, enter your address online in the FEMA Flood Map Service Center at MSC.FEMA.gov.

4)           Insure your property from flood hazards

If you do live in a FEMA designated flood zone, you must purchase flood insurance if you have a federally insured mortgage. Renter’s insurance is also available through the National Flood Insurance Program. To find a local agent, you can go online to FloodSmart.gov or call the NFIP help center at 1-800-427-4661.

Even if you have a policy already, most homeowners and renter’s insurance policies don’t cover damage from natural disasters such as earthquakes or floods. You need a separate policy, and there is usually a 30-day waiting period.

5)           Protect your home from flood threats

Valley Water offers free, filled sandbags for residents of Santa Clara County. For a list of locations and tips on proper usage, visit valleywater.org/sandbags. Loose sand and empty bags for self-filling are also available at various locations; make sure to bring a shovel, just in case.

6)           Help keep creeks clean and flowing

Healthy, flowing creeks reduce flood risks by carrying stormwaters away from properties and roads. Dumping anything into a stream is illegal and affects water quality, creek habitat, and can cause blockages, increasing flood risks.

Report spills, blockages, or dumping in creeks by calling our watershed hotline at 408-630-2378 or through the Access Valley Water customer service system.

7)           Avoid floodwaters, no matter how shallow.

Never walk through or drive through flooded areas. Six inches of moving water can cause an adult to fall. One foot of water is enough to float away a vehicle.

8)           Turn around, don’t drown.

Floodwaters can also be contaminated from oil, gasoline, or raw sewage, and can hide downed power lines that may have electrically charged the water. Never allow children to play in floodwaters.

9)           Build responsibly in floodplains

Construction within FEMA flood zones have special permit requirements from your city government, so you don’t alter natural drainage channels. Before you build or begin upgrades to your home, contact your city’s building department for more information.

Property owners can also make physical alterations to buildings to reduce risks and flood insurance premiums.

Remember, we all need to prepare for floods.  Be aware. Be prepared. Take action.

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