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How To Prepare For a Flood Event

Before/During/After Rain Events

Before it rains:

  • The Douglas County Public Works Department conducts an annual road and ditch maintenance program, which includes the periodic inspection of major drainage channels, roadside ditches and large culverts to reduce/remove water flow stoppage.
  • Always check with the Douglas County Zoning & Codes Department before you build on, fill, alter to regrade your property.  A permit may be needed to ensure  that such projects do not cause problems on other properties.
  • Every piece of trash can contribute to flooding.  Grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels.  If your property is next to a ditch, creek, storage basin or other waterway, please be aware and keep the banks clear of brush and debris.
  • Do not clump or throw anything into drainage ditches, creeks, basins or other waterways. Such dumping causes pollution and is a violation of Federal, State and Local codes. See Douglas County Zoning Regulations 12-304-6.10.03(b)
  • Remove trash, fallen branches, and other debris from ditches and drain inlets to help prevent blockages.
  • Additional measures to protect a property from flood damage may include retrofitting structures, grading, and such emergency measures as moving furniture and sandbagging.
  • Put together a supply kit including battery operated flashlights and radios, first aid and medications, rain gear and warm clothing, sleeping bags or bedding materials, several days worth of canned and non-perishable food, bottled water and other personal items you must have for health and safety.
  • Create a family emergency/evacuation plan.  Make sure everyone knows where to go in the event of flooding.  Make a list of those places you could go--friends or families homes, shelters of other safe public buildings on higher ground. Each family member should have a written list of the locations and phone numbers in preference order.
  • Elevate your water heater, furnace and electrical panel to minimize damage if they are in flood-prone areas of your home.
  • If necessary, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering the building and seal walls in basements with waterproofing compound.
  • Check with your insurance agent on whether or not flood insurance is available for your home. Consult a professional when making flood insurance decisions.
  • Have a full tank of gas in your car.  It will be your quick getaway if the time comes for you to evacuate.
  • Another resource for notifications, warnings and preparedness is the Douglas County Emergency Management department.  The Douglas County Emergency Management Plan is written in consideration of the relevant hazards identified in the Douglas County Hazard Analysis and to address the four phases of emergency management. The purpose of the plan is to define, to the extent appropriate, the policies, roles and responsibilities for a local integrated emergency management system within the constraints of existing resources and operational capabilities. The Douglas County Emergency Management Plan contains both a broad conceptual framework (describing the policy and approach to emergency operations for use by local officials) and specific information and direction for managers.
  • These direct links can help you keep keep tabs of the river levels near you.

Wakarusa River at Clinton Lake

Kansas River at Lawrence

Wakarusa River Near Lawrence

  • Many times flooding along the Kansas & Wakarusa Rivers, or their tributaries, can be predicted days in advance, allowing ample time for warning for preparation or evacuation. However, there is a potential for flash flooding to occur from storms after the ground has become saturated or when there is heavy rainfall within a short duration of time.

 

During a flood watch or warning:

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.  If you notice unusual flooding or a rapid rise in water in creeks or streams, notify Douglas County Emergency Management at 785.832.5259. Contact your Township Board or the Douglas County Public Works Department if roads are flooded and barricades need to be placed. Tune your radio to KLZR-FM 105.9-for local and National Weather Service Updates. Local radio and TV stations will also interrupt programs to advise you on weather alert situations.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur.  If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.  Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of stream, drainage channels, and other areas known to flood suddenly.  Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
  • If you must evacuate, secure your home.  If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essentials items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switch or valves.  Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If you must leave your home, remember these tips:
    • Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall.  If you have to talk in water, walk through the area that is not moving.  Use a stick or long pole to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
    • Do not drive into flooded areas.  If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground, when water is not moving or not more than a few inches deep.  You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly.  If your car is trapped in rapidly moving water, stay in the vehicle. If the water is rising inside the vehicle, seek refuge on the roof.
    • Do not camp or park your car along streams, rivers, creeks or other bodies of water.

FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM

Stay alert to weather conditions and forecasts for severe thunderstorms or flash flooding.  If a road is covered by water, turn around and find another, safer path to your destination!

 

Flood Watch

Flooding is possible

Flash Flood Watch

Flooding is possible with little or no warning.

Flood Warning

Flooding is imminent (it may take several hours/days to occur)

Flash Flood Warning

Flash flooding is imminent and precautions should be taken.

 

After the flood:

Your home has been flooded. Although floodwaters may be down in some areas, many dangers still exist. Here are some things to remember in the days ahead:

  • Use local alerts and warning systems to get information and expert informed advice as soon as available.
  • Avoid moving water.
  • Stay away from damaged areas unless your assistance has been specifically requested by police, fire, or relief organization.
  • Emergency workers will be assisting people in flooded areas. You can help them by staying off the roads and out of the way.
  • Always play it safe. Additional flooding or flash floods can still occur. Listen for local warnings and information. If your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and climb to higher ground.
  • Wait for authorities to advise that it is safe to return to your home.
  • Roads may still be closed because they have been damaged or are covered by water. Barricades have been placed for your protection. If you come upon a barricade or a flooded road, please find another route.
  • If you must walk or drive in areas that have been flooded.
    • Walk on firm ground. Moving water only 6 inches deep can sweep you off your feet. Standing water may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
    • Flooding may have caused familiar places to change. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways. Flood debris may hide animals and broken bottles, and can be very slippery. Avoid walking or driving through it.
  • Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of motor vehicles.
  • Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
  • Use extreme caution when entering buildings; there may be hidden damage, particularly in foundations.

Staying Healthy

A flood can cause physical hazards and emotional stress. You need to look after yourself and your family as you focus on cleanup and repair.

  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewer systems are serious health hazards.
  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink
  • Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals.
  • Rest often and eat well.
  • Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do jobs one at a time.
  • Discuss your concerns with others and seek help. Contact Red Cross for information on emotional support available in your area.
  • Douglas County Emergency Management Plan is written in consideration of the relevant hazards identified in the Douglas County Hazard Analysis and to address the four phases of emergency management. The purpose of the plan is to define, to the extent appropriate, the policies, roles and responsibilities for a local integrated emergency management system within the constraints of existing resources and operational capabilities. The Douglas County Emergency Management Plan contains both a broad conceptual framework (describing the policy and approach to emergency operations for use by local officials) and specific information and direction for managers.

Cleaning Up and Repairing Your Home

  • Turn off the electricity at the main breaker or fuse box. That way, you can decide when your home is dry enough to turn it back on.
  • Get a copy of the book Repairing Your Flooded Home which is available free from the American Red Cross or your state or local emergency manager. It will tell you:
    • How to enter your home safely.
    • How to protect your home and belongings from further damage.
    • How to record damage to support insurance claims and requests for assistance.
    • How to check for gas or water leaks and how to have service restored.
    • How to clean up appliances, furniture, floors and other belongs.
  • The Red Cross can provide you with a cleanup kit: mop, broom, bucket, and cleaning supplies.
  • Contact your insurance agent to discuss your claim.
  • Listen to your radio for information on assistance that may be provided by the state or federal government or other organizations.
  • If you hire cleanup or repair contractors, check references and be sure they are qualified to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or repairing your home.

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