COLLEGE STATION – The Texas AgriLife Extension Service provides information regarding what to do before, during and after a flood, as well as other disasters, according to agency experts.
“AgriLife Extension has a lot of information, most of it free, related to preparing for and recovering from flooding and other disasters available online,” said Dr. Joyce Cavanagh, AgriLife Extension specialist in family economics. “With flooding, there are a number of things you can do to minimize damage to your home or business, protect your family’s health and restore your property after the flood.”
Cavanagh said the Texas Extension Disaster Education Network at http://texashelp.tamu.edu, provides information on flood preparation, cleaning flood-damaged homes, emergency food and water supplies, the national flood insurance program, post-flooding safety precautions and more.
She said the site also contains a link to the downloadable “Preparing for the Unexpected” booklet, which provides details on what steps to take in advance of a natural disaster or other emergency situation. The booklet is available in English and Spanish.
More information on flooding preparation and recovery can be found under the “Disasters & Emergencies” link at the Texas AgriLife Extension Bookstore at http://agrilifebookstore.org. This site contains many no-cost materials for downloading and printing, including flood recovery safety tips, controlling mold, basic first aid, caring for important papers and post-disaster considerations for older adults.
Cavanagh added that having more information about flooding at this time is particularly useful as flood maps around the state are being revised and flood insurance rates likely will be increasing for many new flood coverage buyers.
To determine if the area where you live is undergoing a change to its flood maps, go to http://www.floodsmart.gov and click on the “Flooding & Flood Maps” link, then on “Flood Map Update Schedule.”
One of the best ways to prepare for a flood is to purchase flood insurance, she said. Homeowners’ and renters’ policies do not cover flood damage to homes or contents. Consumers should also realize there is a 30-day waiting period after purchase before coverage takes effect.
“There are numerous floodplains and other flood-prone areas throughout Texas,” said Dr. Andy Vestal, AgriLife Extension’s director of homeland security and emergency. “Even though most of the state is in a serious state of drought, flash flooding has already affected some areas and we should anticipate there will be more rain.”
Vestal added that sudden rains after long dry spells can cause greater-than-average flooding due to the inability of contracted, parched soil to absorb that amount of water — and the subsequent runoff.
“The first thing those affected by a flood need to do is to emphasize safety when returning to their home or business,” Cavanagh said. “They need to be aware of possible structural or electrical damage and possible damage to gas lines. They also need to be aware of possible contamination from flood water and what they can do to reduce that risk. You can be safer just by being informed and aware, and these materials can help.”