Flood Safety Tips
Consider Flood Insurance
Homeowner and business insurance policies typically don’t cover flooding. Talk with your agent as there may be a 30-day waiting period before coverage begins. Flood insurance also is available to renters. Please visit FloodSmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 for information.
The following is a list of things you can do in addition to what the County is doing to minimize flood losses:
- Contact NFIP's National Flood Insurance call center (800-427-4661) for flood insurance questions.
- Contact the Department of Planning and Zoning (540-658-8668) for records of past flooding in your area.
- Obtain or review a copy of the Flood Insurance Rate Map for your area to determine the potential flood elevations.
- Prepare for flooding by:
a) Knowing how to shut off the electricity and gas in your house;
b) Making a list of emergency phone numbers;
c) Identifying a safe place for refuge and a rendezvous point for family members and occupants of the house;
d) Making a household inventory, including basement contents;
e) Storing insurance policies, other valuable papers, medicines, etc. in a secure, waterproof place;
f) Develop a disaster response plan. See the Red Cross website: http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family. Also, obtain a copy of Repairing Your Flooded Home from the Red Cross website; and
g) Preparing an Evacuation Plan.
- Consider some permanent flood prevention measures:
a) Mark your fuse or breaker box to indicate the circuits that are within the floodable areas. Turning off these circuits in the event of a flood may reduce damage and injury.
b) If feasible, elevate the occupied portions of your house above the flood levels.
c) Locate water entry level points for the structures on your property, such as basement windows and doors, basement stairwells, dryer vents, etc. Protect these areas with walls or temporary shields or barricades.
d) Install a floor drain plug, standpipe, overhead sewer, or sewer backflow prevention valve to prevent sewage backup.
e) Obtain a copy of Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding from https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/480.
f) Some protection and preventative measures may require building permits from Stafford County. Contact the Department of Public Works (540-658-8650) before proceeding.
- Obtain a flood insurance policy
a) Homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damages from floods. You can purchase a separate flood insurance policy backed by the Federal government. The insurance is available to everyone, even for properties previously flooded. Stafford County is a member of NFIP CRS (National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System) which qualifies you for a reduced premium on flood insurance.
b) The lender may have required you to purchase flood insurance as part of your mortgage or home improvement loan. These policies usually just cover the structure and not the contents. Flooding may cause more damage to the furniture and other contents than to the structure. It is advisable to have the contents covered by an insurance policy.
c) A flood insurance policy will not only help pay for repairs after flooding, in some cases it will also help pay the costs of elevating a substantially damaged building.
d) There is a 30 day waiting period before the National Flood Insurance Program takes effect, so do not wait for the next flood to buy insurance.
e) Contact your insurance agent for more information on rates and coverage.
- Be sure drainage systems are working.
a) Maintenance of drainage systems is critical. Dumping of debris in ditches and streams can partially or completely obstruct the free flow of water. This can cause water to back up and overflow into roads, into yards, and into structures. Dumping is a violation of Section 21.5-20 of Stafford County Code and Sections 62.1-194, 194.1 and 194.2 of Code of Virginia.
b) If your property is next to a ditch or stream, please help us to keep it clear of brush and debris. To report clogged storm drains along public streets and roads, please contact Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) at 800-FOR-ROAD.
During a Storm
- Ensure water does not come in contact with electric panels, outlets or electric appliances.
- Unplug appliances if they’re threatened by water. Pay special attention to washers and dryers, which have motors located in the bottom of the appliance.
- If the water level rises high enough to threaten the electrical panel, turn off power to the building.
- Clear downspouts of debris or snow that impedes the flow of water from the roof.
Sewage backup in the home
Flooding may cause wastewater to back up into homes. Sewage contains disease-causing microorganisms. Take proper precautions and follow basic hygiene practices in this case.
Check on others
Check on relatives, friends and neighbors, especially those who are elderly or at risk, to ensure they’re safe.
- Do not drive into standing water. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be quickly swept away.
- Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling.
- A foot of water will float many vehicles.
- Two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including SUVs and pick-ups.
Other flood condition cautions
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall.
- If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you. Standing water can hide missing sewer covers and can pose great risk of injury.
- Keep your tetanus shot up-to-date.
- Use good hygiene techniques if you come in contact with flood waters. Wash your hands and take a shower when you are able to do so. Do not drink the water.
Food & water
- Throw out any perishable food in your refrigerator if your power outage lasts more than four hours.
- Use bottled, boiled, or treated water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene. Learn more on the CDC website.
- Protect yourself with rubber boots and waterproof gloves. Disease-causing microorganisms can enter the body through the eyes, nose, mouth, and cuts and abrasions.
- Remove and discard contaminated household goods such as wall coverings, rugs, cloth, and drywall that cannot be disinfected.
- Always wash your hands with soap and water following the cleanup or handling of articles contaminated with sewage.
- Small children, pregnant women and people with health problems should stay out of affected areas until cleanup is complete.
- Some water-damaged items may require a special pick-up. Regular trash pick-up may handle other materials.
- Mold and Mildew: A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home from the EPA
Major home damage
Insurance tips: Do you have storm damage and need to make an insurance claim? The Virginia State Corporation Commission’s Bureau of Insurance has some tips to think about when preparing to and contacting your insurance company.
- Disaster Recovery Advice from Virginia Emergency Management
- Learn more at the floodsmart.gov.
With flooding also comes the increased likelihood of mosquitoes. Follow these helpful tips from: