What to Do

What to Do Before a Flood
Preparation When a flood watch is issued take the following steps to ensure you will ready to evacuate should the condition escalate.
  • Learn flood-warning signs and your community alert signals.
  • If you live in a frequently flooded area, stockpile emergency building materials. These include: plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber nails, hammer and saw, pry bar, shovels, and sandbags.
  • Fill the gas tank in your vehicle and map out a route to higher ground. Try to avoid routes that cross-streams.
  • Stock your vehicle with supplies, include: non-perishable food, water, first aid kit, flashlights, blankets, dry clothing, large trash bags, battery operated radio and extra batteries. Don't forget special needs items such as medications, and special dietary foods.
  • Fill your bathtub(s) and sink(s) with water to be used for drinking, water and other utilities may fail.
  • Have check valves installed in building sewer traps to prevent flood waters from backing up in sewer drains. As a last resort, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.
  • Develop your out-of-area phone contact. After a disaster it is often easier to call long distance. Make sure all family members know the phone number of your out-of-area contact person.
  • Teach family members how to turn off gas, electricity, and water.
  • Ask your insurance agent about the National Flood Program. Remember, homeowner's policies do not cover flood damage.
  • Turn on your NOAA Weather Radio and listen for weather updates and information.
What to Do During a Flood
The most important consideration during a flood is the safety of you and your family. Flood waters can rise very rapidly. Be prepared to evacuate before waters reach your property. A long period of rain and/or melting snow can cause a river to overflow its banks. In some cases, flood waters may rise slowly, and it can take hours or even days before flooding occurs. A dam or dike failure can cause a quick dramatic rise in rivers.

A flood warning from the National Weather Service means flooding is occurring or will occur soon. Evacuate if you are told to do so.

In a flood warning, take the following actions:
  • Secure your home before leaving. Turn off electricity, gas and water if possible.
  • Fill your car's gas tank. Gasoline pumps will not be working if electricity has been cut off.
  • If there's time, some items to take with you are:
    • Prescription drugs
    • Food if you require a special diet
    • Eyeglasses
    • Clothing - enough for at lest 24 hours
    • Personal items - toiletries, documents, photo albums, etc.
    • Bedding - sleeping bags, blankets, pillows
    • Baby or child supplies
    • Money - cash, credit cards, checks
    • Proper identification - especially important for small children
  • Pets will be not be allowed at shelters.
Flood Waters - The Most Dangerous
Rushing water from floods and flash floods is extremely deceptive and dangerous. It is possible to be swept away in flood waters only 1-foot deep. Remember:
  • Police barricades are there for your protection. Do not drive around them.
  • Walking or driving through flood waters is the most dangerous thing you can do.
Emergency Shelters
If you aren't staying with relatives or friends, designated shelters operated by the Red Cross are available. Listen to the EAS or call the Yakima County Office of Emergency Management at 574-1900 for locations.

What to Do After a Flood
  • Do not use food or water that has come into contact with contaminated flood waters.
  • Until the public water system has been declared safe, water for drinking and food preparation should be boiled vigorously for 10 minutes.
  • Re-entering Your Home
    1. Before entering, check for structural damage that could cause collapse. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank and let the house air for several minutes.
    2. Do not strike a match when entering your home. There may have been a gas leak.
    3. Be careful about turning the power on again. Watch for electrical shorts or live wires. Do not use water damaged appliances.
  • Document your flood losses and contact your insurance agent for flood loss claims.
  • Follow procedures for safe clean-up of household items, food, water supply, and property.
  • Dry your house slowly. Carpets and drywall may have to be removed. Remember, water can get trapped between walls and will not dry.
  • If your home or business has received extensive structural damage, this may be the time to elevate or flood proof the structure.