Thomas A. Merrill | 5/27/2006 9:35:26 AM
Hurricanes can cause flooding even in areas where it never occurred before. That means everyone should be prepared before storms approach and should know what to watch for during a storm, according to experts with the LSU AgCenter.
"Last year’s experience with the storm surge in southwestern Louisiana and the extensive flooding in New Orleans certainly showed us how bad it can be," says Dr. Paul Coreil, vice chancellor of the LSU AgCenter. "People need to know that even when you think it can’t possibly happen, flooding might occur."
Experts point out a hurricane or tropical storm covering a "critical path" or moving slowly can cause flooding in areas considered minimal-risk zones and even inside levees.
"It doesn’t take a levee break or a pump failure, and sometimes it doesn’t even take what you would consider an overwhelming amount of rain," Coreil says. "That’s why it’s important to consider flooding as a very real possibility even if you think it won’t ever happen."
Emergency preparedness experts in the LSU AgCenter say such an attitude means planning now what you’d do if you thought flood waters would be up to your door in a couple of hours.
Among their suggestions:
–Think about which items you could raise on blocks or move to a higher floor or the attic. Get concrete (not wood) blocks now and store them in case they’re ever needed.
–Learn how to disconnect your appliances.
–List the things you want to save in order of their importance to you. Keep the list where you could find it and follow it in a hurry.
–Look around to determine what important papers and documents, photo albums and other irreplaceable items are stored in lower cabinets or shelves or the floors of your closets. Move those to higher places now, if possible, or make copies and store the copies in another location.
–Store really important documents, such as birth and marriage certificates, mortgage papers, insurance policies and so forth in waterproof (and fireproof, if possible) containers.
–Keep an accurate written inventory of your household and document it with photos or videos if you can. Store the inventory in a waterproof container, preferably in a high place, and take it with you if you evacuate. Consider making a second copy to store in another location away from your home.
–When you’re identifying flood-safe storage locations, don’t count on putting things on wood furniture, cabinets or counters. This furniture often floats and overturns in a flood, and particle board cabinets or furniture may dissolve or disintegrate.
"A final consideration is to investigate and obtain flood insurance," Coreil says. "Your regular homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance won’t cover the damage caused by flooding, so flood insurance could prevent you from losing your home and possessions and not having any cash to help replace them."
For more information on preparing for and recovering from storms, visit www.lsuagcenter.com and click on the related links under the "Features" section of that page.
Writer: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or firstname.lastname@example.org