ATLANTA, March 28, 2011 The winter's elevated snowfall totals have put 14 states at above average to high risk for spring floods, according to the National Hydrologic Assessment from the National Weather Service.
The report, which is issued each spring, warns that a large portion of the North Central United States from Montana to Missouri and areas in Eastern New York and Southern New England could be impacted. National Weather Service data shows this year's snowpack in the North Central United States contains moisture levels that are among the highest in 60 years, and snowfall totals in portions of the Northeast have been far greater than usual. Experts are concerned that these factors could create increased flooding problems during the annual thaw.
"Water is a home's worst enemy," said Rhonda Hills, Kudzu.com vice president and chief marketing officer. "When water infiltrates the home it can cause structural issues, create fire hazards, ruin drywall and create unhealthy mold problems. Homeowner's who live in flood-prone areas should become knowledgeable about the threats their homes face and what steps they can take to quickly restore their homes if water damage occurs."
According to the report, the Mississippi River is likely to experience major flooding from its origins near St. Paul, Minn., to St. Louis more than 500 miles downstream. The flooding outlook in these areas and the Northeast is the result of late autumn rains which left the soil saturated prior to the winter freeze. The soaked soil will be unable to absorb the meltwater from the annual thaw and will instead force the runoff into already swollen waterways.
The home experts at Kudzu.com recommend the following steps to prepare homes in flood-prone areas:
- Check sump pumps to ensure they are working properly. If your pumps are malfunctioning, contact a plumber to have them immediately repaired.
- Seal basement walls with waterproofing materials. Taking this step will help prevent water from seeping through exterior walls and into your basement.
- Install sewage backflow valves. These valves prevent sewage from backing up into your home through toilets and drains. These valves will need to be installed by a professional plumber.
- Move furniture and other important items to higher floors or at least off the ground if possible. Also, seal important documents and valuables in plastic bags.
- Learn how to turn off your gas and electrical supply. You may need to turn these off if you are forced to leave your home.
Homeowners who experience water damage should use these tips to help restore their homes:
- Contact your insurance agent as soon as possible. Your agent will want to assess your home's damage. Be sure to take pictures of everything that has been damaged so you can properly catalog your losses.
- Contact a licensed electrician to assess your electrical system and appliances. Water may have damaged these sensitive items, and it's critical to have an expert review them and ensure they're safe to use.
- Remove drywall and insulation that was submerged in water. Wet drywall and insulation can present a mold hazard. Drywall will need to be cut away above the flood line so the wall can be opened and the interior can begin drying.
- Open windows and doors to allow air to circulate. If it is safe to employ the use of electricity, use box fans and dehumidifiers to help speed the drying process
- When cleaning, wear rubber boots, long rubber gloves, safety goggles and a breathing mask. Also, be sure to clean every surface in your home. Flood waters can be contaminated with chemicals, sewage and other hazardous materials. Floors, countertops and other submerged surfaces should be disinfected and thoroughly cleaned.
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