On April 18, 2016, Houston saw its second heaviest rainfall in recorded history, and the heaviest rain since June of 1989. This deluge caused at least seven deaths, flooded 1,000 homes, and left many more homes without power. While this was a historic flood of unusually disastrous proportions, Houston does see heavy rains and flash floods from time to time. Whether you’re new to Houston or a long-time resident who’s just seen how powerful our weather patterns can be, you can take care of yourself and your loved ones, and bring yourself peace of mind, by preparing now for future Houston floods. Here are some of the best resources available to help you prepare, stay safe, and minimize the damage during the next Houston flood:
Check your insurance coverage.
Make sure your belongings are covered in case of floods. Your landlord is responsible for insuring your apartment, of course, but their policy only covers the building, itself. For all of your possessions inside your Houston apartment, you’ll need your own renters’ insurance policy. Once your have renters’ insurance, check your policy to make sure you’ll be covered in case of flooding. Not all insurance policies cover flood damage. You may need to buy a rider or separate flood insurance. If you own a car, check your automobile insurance policy, too, and make sure you have insurance to cover flood damage to your car.
Set up your tech so you’ll have the most useful alerts and resources.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have created the Ready.gov Web site to help us all prepare for any kind of disaster. Ready.gov’s “Get Tech Ready” page offers step-by-step instructions for signing up to get text message alerts from FEMA when a major flood or other disaster is coming, a list of tech tools that can help you in the event of flooding or other disasters, and advice on using your mobile phone and other communication devices to get you through an emergency situation.
Create an emergency supply kit.
It’s a good idea to have emergency supplies on hand in your Houston apartment to help you and your family live safely for several days if a flood or other disaster keeps you there without power or access to outside resources. The Ready.gov site gives a list of basic supplies to keep on hand, as well as suggestions for items you may want to add to the kit for people with special needs (such as formula for infants and medications for anyone who needs them). If you have pets, visit the Houston SPCA’s Disaster Preparedness page to see a list of supplies you should keep on hand for them, too.
Make a plan to stay in touch with your family.
Before any disaster strikes, decide how you and your family will communicate, get emergency information, get to safe places, and meet up again if you should be separated. Ready.gov offers a list of things to think about while you plan.
Step up your game when you hear that a major storm is coming.
Visit the Web site for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for advice on what to do during every stage of a major flooding event. This resource tells you how to find out whether your apartment is in a flood-prone area, how to make sure you understand local flood warning systems, what to do under a flood watch or warning, what to do if you’re told to evacuate, and more.