Flash flooding, defined as heavy rains falling over short periods of time, can occur with little warning and quickly devastate both commercial and residential property. It is among the most frequent and costly type of natural disaster in the United States. Soil moisture conditions are used to determine the amount of rainfall necessary to cause flash flooding in a particular area. In most of inland Massachusetts, for example, 2 inches of rainfall in three hours is enough to produce flash flooding; however, coastal Massachusetts must experience 4 inches of rainfall in three hours before flash floods strike. Reference this map for information regarding flooding in Massachusetts. If you select “Massachusetts” then click “View Text Product”, a window will open containing the number of inches of rainfall necessary to produce flash flooding over specific durations of time in towns and counties. Standard home and business owners’ insurance can limit or exclude coverage for flooding. If you are concerned that your property is particularly at risk for floods, ask your agent, broker or risk advisor about the National Flood Insurance Program. Because you may not be covered, here are some tips to prepare your property for a flash flood situation:
- Clear contents from basements in buildings prone to flooding. This will prevent water and mold damage to any items stored in the basement.
- Consider re-grading soil around the building or installing perimeter drainage systems to keep the water outside.
- Elevate cardboard boxes, paper material or filing cabinets as far from the ground floor as possible. These items are especially prone to developing mold in moist conditions and, if found to be moldy, should be discarded.
- Install check valves in your property’s sewer traps to prevent flooding water from backing up into the drains of your building. If you don’t have time for this before a flood hits, use corks and rubber stoppers to plug drains in sinks, showers and tubs.
- Seal basement and first-floor walls with waterproofing compounds to prevent water from seeping through any cracks.
- Construct barriers using sandbags, ditches or small moats to keep flood water from entering your property.
As always, if water from flash flooding damages your building, call the professionals at ServiceMaster by Gilmore to restore your property and your peace of mind.