Ready or Not #121: Flooding and Insurance

During the summer two years ago, I really wanted a good summer rain to cool things down and green everything up.  Well, it did rain, not down here, but up north.  And boy did it ever rain.  Those poor people were deluged with the wet stuff and it caused a lot of problems.  There was flooding all over the place and it caused a lot of damage.  There were some really scary things that happened, other than just water running through the streets and pouring into people’s basements.

One neighborhood had a playground that was located in a large bowl area and it was completely filled with water covering most of the play equipment.  The scary part was that city officials thought that the water might have been contaminated with sewer water.  Even if it wasn’t contaminated with sewer water, it was certainly contaminated with other chemicals.

As the water traveled along the neighborhood it would have picked up the oils on the street, chemicals on the lawns and neighborhood pet droppings.  All bad water.  Have I mentioned in the past to get your drinking water and washing water stored?  Two gallons a day, per person, per week for a two week period.

The other scary thing that happened was the wall of mud that descended on an apartment complex.  It seems like mudslides are happening more and more often to a lot of the areas in Utah.  The ground gets too saturated and suddenly you have extra real estate in your back yard, and sometimes in your house.  While we won’t even get into the mess of the clean up, I do want you to think about what kind of insurance you have on your house and your possessions and if it covers flood damage.

Don’t own a home?  What about renters insurance?  I have witnessed apartment fires that have destroyed all of the renter’s belongings and they had to start all over.  I had a water pipe break and it wasn’t discovered for a couple of days.  It did a lot of damage, but I was lucky because I did have insurance.

In a disaster, after the police have checked your house to make sure that it is safe and you are allowed to go back in (did you take your 72-hr kit with you when you left?), what are some of the things you need to think about?  How about the way you are dressed?  I saw a lot of people on the TV in shorts and flip flops trying to clean up the potentially disgusting debris.  Make sure that you are protected.  Wear protective clothing: jeans, boots or at least shoes that cover your feet, protective eyewear, gloves, and possibly face masks.  You need to be concerned about chemicals, rancid water and mold and mildew, and you won’t want to be breathing it in or sloshing around in it, or at least try to keep the exposure down to a minimum.

When deciding how to clean up the aftermath you might want to consider a professional disaster cleaning company – if you have insurance.  If not, make sure that you are very careful in what you save and how you clean what you want to keep.  You might want to consider throwing away things that can’t be thoroughly disinfected that might carry mold spores back into your clean house.

Being that we are in the second driest state in the union, you really wouldn’t think that you would need flood insurance.  After all, we don’t live on the banks of the Mississippi.  But, we do seem to have our fair share of flooding and catastrophe in our fair state.  Everyone is concerned about what is going to happen when the big earthquake hits the Wasatch Front.  We should also look at other types of disasters and be prepared for them too – and for goodness sakes, don’t forget your 72-hr kit – or water.

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