According to the American Red Cross, floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters. Conditions that cause floods include heavy or steady rain for several hours or days that saturates the ground. Flash floods occur suddenly due to rapidly rising water along a river, bayou, stream or low-lying area. Anyone living in Texas over the last several weeks is very familiar with these weather conditions.
Texas residents have heard weather forecasters use these terms predicting floods on an almost daily basis as of late:
• Flood/Flash Flood Watch—Flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.
• Flood/Flash Flood Warning—Flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
Document your property
In preparation for a natural disaster such as flooding, be sure to prepare to deal with your insurance company in the aftermath. Before leaving your home and before you ever need them, take photos of the content of your home.
• Photograph everything from chandeliers you may have installed, artwork you’ve purchased, sports memorabilia, furniture, and electronics.
• Make sure the photographs include the manufacturer of electronics and if possible, the serial numbers.
• Save those photos to a cloud based server or a service such as Shutterfly. It can be very difficult to recreate the contents of your home.
• Photograph or scan and save your insurance policy. For both your home and your car. As we have seen in Houston, cars often fall victim to flooding.
• You should also scan and save other important documents such as your will, birth certificates, deed to your home, and medication lists.
Be prepared if you must leave
In the event that you will be forced to evacuate your home, the American Red Cross recommends having an evacuation kit ready which would include a number of items such as:
• Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
• Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
• Extra batteries
• First Aid Kit
• Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
• Multi-purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Copies of personal documents (medication lists and information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Extra cash
• Emergency blanket
• Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
• Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
• Tools/supplies for securing your home
• Extra set of car keys and house keys
• Extra clothing and sturdy shoes
• Insect repellent and sunscreen
• Camera for photos of damage
Document the damage
After the storm has passed, use the camera that the American Red Cross recommended for your evacuation kit or your smartphone to photograph all damage. Take video of the damage as well. Do your best to document all the property damage. You will need this later as you make your insurance claim. Of course, contact your insurance company to make a claim as soon as it is safe to do so.
For more information on flood preparedness or to purchase your First Aid Kit, visit the Red Cross. Additionally, The State Bar of Texas has established a legal hotline, (800) 504-7030, to help people find answers to basic legal questions and connect them with local legal aid providers.