Spring Floods — 5 Tasks to Do Now Before They Occur

Spring heralds the arrival of warmer weather but it can also lead to spring floods. Here is what you need to know about spring floods from Ready.gov and National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

While flooding can occur at any time of the year, some areas such can be more at risk at certain times of the year. The Midwest is more at risk in the spring and during heavy summer rains, while ice jams that occur in the spring in the Northeast and Northwest can also cause flooding.

According to NOAA, when melting snow and/or warm rain runs into rivers and breaks up the thick layers of ice, ice jams can result, causing the water to rapidly rise behind the ice jam. Then, when the jam breaks, it can lead to serious flash flooding downstream. Huge chunks of ice can be also pushed onto the shore and through houses and buildings.

Spring rains can cause flooding, even without melting snow added to the mix. A heavy spring storm can bring several inches of precipitation in just hours or can stall out over an area for days. The ground then becomes oversaturated, storm drains overfilled or rivers spill over their banks or levees.

What to Do

Take steps now to prepare for the possibility of a spring flood event. (For more information, visit Ready.gov’s Flood page.)

  • Know your exit plan. Practice your family emergency plan so you know the flood evacuation routes from home, work, and school that are on higher ground.
  • Get your paperwork together. Download FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK) in English or Spanish to create a record of important documents, personal and family information.
  • Update your home inventory. This will be invaluable in case you need to file a claim for damages. (Download our home inventory pdfs here.)
  • Learn about flood insurance and any flood maps updates for your area. Visit FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center and type in your address to find your community’s flood map. (Download FEMA’s flood zone definitions here.)
  • Prepare your house. Today’s Homeowner recommends fixing a leaky roof or cracked foundation immediately and cleaning gutters on a regular basis to help avoid problems from heavy spring rains or ice melt. Installing check valves (backwater valves) on your sewer or septic line will force the flow of waste in one direction to prevent backups. A sump pumps can keep the water out of your basement.