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Protecting Yourself From Flooding

If you have experienced water problems in the past, you shouldn’t wait for the problem to go away. Here are some things you can do:

  • Read about flood proofing and get more information from the Library on the measures appropriate for your building.
  • Check out flood insurance coverage.
  • Read about the City’s construction and dumping regulations. Follow these rules and report violations to the Department of Inspectional Services at 891-8120.

Flood proofing: Flood proofing a house means altering it so floodwaters will not cause damage. Different flood proofing techniques are appropriate for different types of buildings. Use the following as a guideline:

  • If you have a basement, split level, or other floor below ground level, read Guide to Flood Protection in Northeastern Illinois at the Library. There are lots of ways to protect your basement or lower floor from seepage and sewer backup.
  • If your house is on a slab foundation, investigate a low floodwall, berm or “dry flood proofing” (i.e., making the walls watertight and closing all the openings when a flood comes).
  • If your house is on a crawlspace, a low floodwall, berm or “wet flood proofing” will work. “Wet flood proofing” means moving all items subject to damage out of harm’s way so water can flow into the crawlspace and not cause any problems. If floodwaters go over the first floor, it is relatively easy to elevate the building to get the first floor above the flood level.

An excellent source for more information is Protect Your Property, Home or Business From Disaster. It can be read at the Library, ordered (for free) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency by calling 1-800/480-2520, or viewed and downloaded from FEMA’s web site.

FEMA’s recent publication, Protecting Utilities can be viewed or downloaded on FEMA’s website.

Emergency measures: No matter what kind of building you have, some last minute emergency measures can always help. For example, you could move valuable items (photos, antiques, and other “irreplaceables,” etc.) or items that are most damaged by floodwaters (upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, mattresses, foam rubber, etc.) up to a higher level. You can place sandbags or plastic sheeting in front of doorways and other low entry points.

The Red Cross has information on emergency protection measures at: http://www.redcross.org/services/disaster/0,1082,0_570_,00.html

Whatever emergency protection measures you use, it is always best to have a plan written in advance to make sure you don’t forget anything after you hear the flood warning. Keep in mind the following flood safety hints.