The rain covered my windshield like a white sheet as I slowly pulled my jeep into the driveway. I barely made it home. I couldn't see anything and the streets were filling up with water. The nearby sound had already spilled over and flooded half of my neighborhood. I muttered an expletive as I got out of the jeep and glanced down the walkway that led to my door. I pulled the hood back on my sweatshirt just enough to discern a path to my doorstep, but as I got closer, I realized that I didn't have one!
I am from Missouri and I am no stranger to tornado scares or a good storm, but living on the the sound facing the beach in North Carolina is very new. It had been raining for days and I was not prepared for the amount of water that had accumulated at my home. I thought we would catch a little fallout from Hurricane Joaquin as it skirted the coast over the weekend, but not to this extent.
My yard was completely underwater. Not small pools or puddles . . . completely underwater. A lake led up to my screened-in back porch, where I found my tables, chairs, and paddle board floating.
Disaster planning should begin before you even choose your home, with a simple investigation of the risks that you will face. Is the house in a flood zone? Is there a history of hurricanes, wildfires, or tornadoes? Once you're settled, you can build up your resources, put important things in a safe place, and turn your home into a survivable system. You will be prepared.
When a flood hits, live electrical outlets are extremely dangerous. Get to your main circuit box and shut off the breaker. IF YOU ALREADY HAVE WATER IN YOUR BASEMENT OR HOME, DO NOT TOUCH YOUR SERVICE PANEL!
In a disaster such as a hurricane, cracked exterior water lines can bring contaminated water into your house. To shut down your house's water, locate and turn off the main water valve, which is typically located in the basement. Sometimes it's in the front yard, in which case, you're screwed. :(
I did my research and put together a survival and disaster checklist.
1. FILL UP EVERY BASIN
FEMA suggests that you store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day in the event of an emergency; 28 gallons per week for a family of 4.
2. Pack a Backpack or Bug-Out-Bag For Emergency Evacuation. I have had one for years.
3. Car Prep (provided you can still drive)
Food and water
A Few Paper Cups, Plates, and Utensils
Sleeping bags or Blankets
Toilet Paper and Garbage Bags
Multi Tool and Knife
Light Sticks or Flares
4. Home Prep (if YOU cannot leave) Keep enough supplies around for at least three days and it will be helpful during clean-up.
Seal off windows (plastic sheets and duct tape)
Canned and Dry Goods
Candles, Lanterns, Matches
Flashlight and Batteries
Hand Crank Radio
Heavy Gloves (for removing debris)
Toilet Paper and bucket
Hand and Power Tools
85% of U.S. counties have been declared federal disaster areas due to flooding in the last 50 years. It is completely a myth that a few inches of water won't do any harm. It takes only 6 inches of rain to knock you off your feet, and only 2 feet of rain for your vehicle to float.
Remember to take photos of any and all flood damage for your insurance company. Fortunately, I am safe and sound. My mess was very small compared to what some cities are facing this weekend after Hurricane Joaquin.
Please, BE PREPARED!