For homeowners living in areas that don’t typically experience heavy rainfall (like us!), the possibility of extended periods of intense rain and flooding can be a worrying prospect. It’s important to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, especially when it comes to protecting our homes and belongings, that way when the storms do come, we can rest easy knowing we are as prepared as possible. With yet another “atmospheric river” possibly headed our way by March 10th, here are five ways homeowners can prepare for extended periods of heavy rain and potential flooding:
Get and use free sandbags
One of the most effective ways to prevent flooding is to use sandbags to redirect or contain the flow of water. Many local authorities provide free sandbags to homeowners in flood-prone areas.
Here in Fresno, homeowners can contact the County’s Department of Public Works for information on sandbag distribution. During periods of heavy rain and potential flooding, the County provides free sandbags to residents. Of note, bags and sand are provided, but you’ll need to bring your own shovel and fill your bags. This can be done at one of five designated locations. Click this link for an interactive map of all locations.
It is important to note that sandbags are intended to be used as a temporary measure to redirect water and are not a long-term solution. They may need to be replaced or repositioned during heavy rainfall. Homeowners should also be very careful when handling the sandbags (especially when wet), as they can be heavy and may cause injury if lifted improperly.
In addition to sandbags, the County of Fresno offers a number of resources to flooding online here.
Check homeowner’s insurance coverage
It is important to review your homeowner’s insurance policy to ensure it covers flood damage. Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flooding, and it be wise to purchase additional flood insurance, depending on your home’s exact location and flood risk in that area. (Floodplain mapping and insurance information can be found on the County’s website linked above, too.) It is crucial to understand the coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions in your homeowner’s policy in general, but best not to be surprised when its too late when it comes to flood risks.
Check for roof problems in advance
Heavy rain can cause significant damage to a home’s roof, leading to leaks, water damage, and (worse) collapse. It is important to inspect the roof before heavy rains and do what you can to fix any issues that could compromise your roof’s integrity.
Our family recently had to have roof repairs done, due to issues that were related to the installation of our solar panels. As we learned, minor/light rains don’t always make potential roof issues obvious, but heavy rains sure do!
Luckily, the repairs were covered by our solar company’s warranty, however, before we knew that – I’d reached out to multiple roofers and have the best experience with Quality Barrier Roofing. They were super kind, quick to respond, knowledgeable and genuinely helpful. If you don’t know where to begin, I’m happy to recommend giving them a call. (They have no idea I’m including this recommendation, nor is this remotely a paid promotion, I just like connecting people to good, local businesses.)
Weatherproof the home
Weatherproofing your home is another important step in preparing for heavy rain. Start by sealing any cracks or gaps around windows and doors to prevent water from seeping in. (If you can see sunlight shining through, that’s where you need to work!)
It’s also essential to ensure gutters are clean and in good working condition to prevent water from overflowing and damaging the home’s foundation, or simply having the rain gutters themselves detach from the home due to the weight of sopping wet leaves and debris inside them.
If you’re like us, and have pets who use a pet door, putting down extra mats during times of heavy rain can save a lot of clean up stress, too. (I highly recommend a special mat that we tried out this winter called a “Muddy Mat” that’s extra absorbent. They really make a big difference, and are relatively affordable.)
Prepare an emergency kit
Power outages are a common occurrence in the Fresno area during heavy rain and flooding. To be prepared, homeowners should have an emergency kit that includes flashlights, batteries, portable phone charges (make sure to charge them up before a storm) and a portable radio. We recently experienced a 15-hour outage, and I really wished I had been more prepared. Since then, I ordered (and fully charged) these inexpensive cell phone battery back-up chargers, which can each charge a phone as many as 3 times before recharging.
If a power outage lasts longer than a few hours, it is important to check on elderly neighbors or family members who may be particularly vulnerable during a blackout, especially if the weather is quite cold.
Additionally, homeowners should be cautious when using candles or other open flames as a source of light, as they can pose a fire hazard – especially of power outages last for some time and family members fall asleep with flames still burning.
If you experience an outage, but have cell service, you can check PG&E’s outage map for live updates online here. You can also call to report an outage or listen to the latest updates on a known outage at 1-800-743-5002.
By taking the necessary steps to prepare for heavy rain and potential flooding, Fresno-area homeowners can protect their homes and belongings and ensure their families’ safety and relative comfort, too.
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