It is not always
possible to know when a flood will happen. It may be caused by an
inundation of rain fall. Cities in Iowa were affected in this way when
the Cedar and Iowa Rivers swelled with over 10 inches of rain in only
one week.** This can then be compounded when man-made structures give way. This was
seen in New Orleans when 50 levees broke during
Hurricane Katrina.* So what can you do to protect your business or home
before a flood happens?
about the land your structure is on. Does it sit on a flood plain?
What is the threat level? Geologists or your county planning
department will list these areas by the probability of a flood. For
instance, Cedar Rapids has areas designated as 100 or 500 year flood
plains. The flood in June was a 500 year flood.
FEMA Offers flood maps detailing current flood risk. Simply type in
your address and you can look at it online. You also have the option
to buy a map, but as long as you are looking online, the service is
you know where your home or business stands, what kind of insurance
is available? Talk to your insurance agent first. If you want
to now more about insurance options, especially in higher risk
areas, also check out the National Flood Insurance Program at
household or a business, you should have an evacuation plan in
place. Let family members and employees know what evacuation route
to take if water is rising swiftly and an evacuation is ordered. For
households you should include a place for everyone to meet whether
it is a local shelter or a relative’s/friend’s house. Also, families
should have an out of state contact that everyone may call to locate
each other in case they are separated.
emergency kit to be ready at any time. Depending on the needs (home
or business) some items to consider are:
water (enough for at least 3 days for every person and animal –
generally 5 gallons per person)
Nonperishable food for 3 days (don’t forget a can opener!)
Suitcase with an extra pair of clothes and extra blankets or
Kit - Baby food, diapers and other supplies
food, leashes, vaccination info for your pet – you may have to
leave your pet at a local pet shelter if you are evacuated as
emergency shelters do not allow pets
Aid Kit – try to include some extra prescription medications
(not expired!) or details about any prescriptions so you can
refill them if lost in the flood
Personal Hygiene Kit – sanitary wipes or gel, soap, toothpaste,
feminine supplies, deodorant, etc.
Flashlights, radio or small TV, and batteries – you may also
consider crank flashlights and radios
items to have on hand particular to a flood threat: insect
repellent, rubber boots and gloves, and thick shoes
your documents! If you are evacuated due to a flood there are
certain documents you will need for claims and getting back on your
feet. Keep a copy of these documents with your emergency kit, at a
safe location other than your home or both. At the very least these
documents should include: insurance information, social security
number, and medical records including any active prescriptions. It
would also be a good idea to make a list of emergency contact
information including family and friends as well as local and state
numbers you may need.
your business or home to resist flood damage. Suggestions include:
install sump pumps with a back-up source of power, install backflow
valves or plugs to prevent sewage entering the home, and make sure
any fuel or propane tanks are securely and properly installed.
flood watch or warning is given call local authorities and let them
know of anyone who may have special needs and cannot leave the flood
area easily. It is extremely helpful for authorities to know who
needs help evacuating if an evacuation becomes necessary. Ideally,
have a friend or family member who will try to get this person out
first if it is still safe to do so. This way there is less chance of
emergency kit and keep it at hand in case of an evacuation. If you
have some prep time before, fill up the gas tank to make sure you
can go at a moments notice. If an evacuation is ordered there may be
heavy traffic and you may need to go some distance to a shelter.
any items outside that might become hazards in water such as garbage
cans, lawn furniture, grills, etc.
evacuation is imminent: turn off the power and gas.
evacuation is ordered, evacuate immediately. Use the route the
authorities have given and make certain not to drive through flooded
are not ordered to evacuate, stay home and listen to any future
announcements. Unless helping a family member or friend for a
specific purpose, stay off the roads and out of the way of emergency
crews. Going to watch is not helpful and can be potentially very
will want to contact your insurance company. Even if you are not
covered for a flood, you will need to contact your agent. This is
why it is important to keep documentation with your emergency kit.
You need to know your company, agent (if applicable) and your policy
number. In the case of evacuation, make certain to specify the
address and phone of where you can be reached now. This may also be
a friend or relative who can act as a point of contact if you are
not immediately near a dedicated phone. They will set up an
appointment to meet with you and discuss your losses. If they do not
get back in a few days be persistent and call again, just keep in
mind they may be overwhelmed with claims.
authorities about your return. Although this part can be extremely
frustrating, in the case of major floods they will want to assess
the safety of your return before you may enter any neighborhood or
structure. Choose representatives, as in the case of Cedar Rapids
the first look at the property was restricted to 1-3 people
depending on location. The authorities may have also set up a grade
system for the status of your structure. In Cedar Rapids there were
green, yellow and red signs letting owners know whether a structure
was safe to enter, enter only with caution or too dangerous and
deemed a total loss.
has been deemed safe by the authorities for you to return, start the
process of sorting your property. Do not throw out all items as you
will need your insurance agent to see these. However, if the items
are considered too toxic to keep around, get pictures and samples of
the items before disposing of them.
Make sure to take all
precautions necessary before entering a flood damaged building! Click here for more details.
pictures of the inside and outside of your structure before cleanup.
Photograph any standing water, items that have to be disposed of immediately
and general survey pictures of each room. Also, take
pictures of the items that will have to torn out such as the walls,
list of all damaged and lost items. This will help when you work
with your insurance agent to process your claim. With your agent you
will make a Proof of Loss. This statement is your testimony to the
damages suffered. It should be filed within 60 days unless
circumstances have allotted more time. Once this is filed with your
insurance company your claim will be processed, however, it may take
some time if the area was hit especially hard.
Flood DAMAGE and CLEAN UP
Flood: Home and Family Recovery –
Working with FEMA
stands for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As they state on
their website they define their type of disaster assistance as
“money or direct assistance to individuals, families and businesses
in an area whose property has been damaged or destroyed and whose
losses are not covered by insurance. It is meant to help you with
critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. This
assistance is not intended to restore your damaged property to its
condition before the disaster.” In essence they are there to help
those who could not or did not get flood insurance.
FEMA will cover are: temporary housing in the instance of evacuation
or unlivable conditions, repair for what the insurance company will
not cover (this is just until the home is safe, not necessarily with
the same materials as before), and permanent housing construction.
This last is only available to those who cannot get flood insurance
at all due to location.
help with recovery costs that are not directly related to the
home. These additional expenses can only be claimed if you live in a
disaster area as designated by the President, you have already filed
with your insurance company and find you are not covered, and you
have serious needs directly related to the disaster. Some of these
costs listed on the FEMA website include:
Disaster-related medical and dental costs.
Disaster-related funeral and burial cost.
Clothing; household items (room furnishings, appliances); tools
(specialized or protective clothing and equipment) required for
your job; necessary educational materials (computers, school
for primary heat source (heating oil, gas).
Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier).
Disaster damaged vehicle.
Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (moving and
storing property to avoid additional disaster damage while
disaster-related repairs are being made to the home).
necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.
expenses that are authorized by law.
reach FEMA by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585
making any claim, you should have the following at hand: your social
security number, current and damaged address, current phone contact,
insurance information, household annual income, routing number to
your bank to receive funds, and a detailed description of the
be referred by FEMA to SBA which offers low-interest disaster loans.
“Homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for disaster related home
repairs. Homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace
disaster-damaged personal property including vehicles.” However, you
can not receive duplicated aid already received from FEMA.
currently approved disaster areas you can go online:
Flood: Business Recovery – Working with SBA
stands for the Small Business Administration which has a specific
branch for disasters the Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA) that
offers federal low-interest, long term loans for “homeowners,
renters and non-farm businesses.” An Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)
is available to small businesses specifically geared towards helping
with day to day expenses so a business may continue to operate.
release disaster loans if one or more of the following conditions
are met: Presidential Disaster Declaration, Agency Physical Disaster
Declaration (based on a minimum amount lost), Governor Certification
Declaration, Secretary of Agriculture Declaration, Secretary of
Commerce Declaration, or Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster
Loan (for businesses that lose key personnel who are called to
Physical Disaster Loans which help replace an uninsured or
under-insured property, an inspection team from SBA’s ODA will
review the site and claims.
Applicants do have to show some reasonable ability to pay back the
loans. However, since they are low-interest and can be as long as 30
years, they are easier to qualify for than standard loans.
Especially with real estate, the SBA’s ODA will continue contact
with the borrower to make certain construction is on schedule and
funds are being used appropriately.
reach SBA by calling 1-800-659-2955 8am-9pm EDT. Or email them at
to Page 2~
FEMA and the American Red
Cross have made a pamphlet entitled Repairing Your Flooded Home
which is available as a PDF. A great resource, page 55 has a very
useful emergency contact list as well.
Additional pointers on page
two of this article:
Some Ways to Help Our
Downtown Cedar Rapids, Iowa on Sunday, June 15, 2008
after the waters have started to recede.
Aidmatrix Network - Iowa
The Safeguard Iowa Partnership and the Iowa Disaster Human Resource
Council have partnered to provide the Aidmatrix Network, an easy way
to make monetary and product donations to the nonprofit
organizations that are assisting in the response and recovery
efforts following recent disaster events in Iowa.
Cedar Rapids Czech & Slovak Museum
The National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library staff and board
continue to work through the challenges of flood recovery. Our five
museum buildings are cleaned out and secure. Visitors from across
the country have been calling to plan summer visits. Some have
already made their way here and are shocked and dismayed to find a
sight they never expected - boarded up buildings, sandbars in the
garden, and piles of debris. We are assuring them we will survive
and be back in business, but it will take time. To us it's
surprising there's still a world out there that doesn't know about
Cedar Rapids Public Library
Our public library lost all of the first floor which included
books and magazines for adults. The children's book section
was mostly recovered. They are currently looking for temporary
"07 July 2008 - Librarians are compiling a list of books and other
materials that the CRPL’s book distributor will hold until the
library has a place to put them. The books will arrive
pre-processed, which means that staff will be able to shelve them
immediately, saving an enormous amount of time.
Once the list is compiled, individuals will have an opportunity to
select a book from the list to donate. “Many of our patrons and
supporters have been asking what they can do. This will be a way to
help rebuild our library,” says Glise. “By fall, we hope to have a
wish list available.”
For future information on donating books or cash please visit:
Corridor Recovery is a not-for-profit partnership between
government, civic, business and faith-based organizations, created
to respond to the Flood of 2008. As the flood waters peaked,
Corridor Recovery quickly became the primary resource for materials
and information for Linn County and Cedar Rapids. We provide
resources for local governments and agencies to distribute
flood-recovery information to the public in a critical time of need,
and to coordinate volunteer efforts in the clean-up and recovery
Greater Cedar Rapids Community
The Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation opened the Flood
2008 Fund on June 15. The Flood 2008 Fund is for flood relief and
recovery donations. One-hundred percent of financial donations to
the fund will support response, recovery and rebuilding efforts
throughout the Cedar Rapids-metro and surrounding communities. The
first priority will be to work with local nonprofit organizations to
support individuals and families affected by the floods. The GCRCF
is committed to helping individuals, families and the nonprofit
community recover and rebuild from the catastrophic flood.
Embrace Iowa 2008 Disaster Fund
Embrace Iowa is a program of statewide outreach by the Des
Moines Register. Since it already has an established logo,
identity, and donation tracking mechanism, the Iowa Disaster
Collaborative is using the Embrace Iowa website as one way for
donors to make a donation and learn more about the 2008 Iowa
Iowa Commission on Volunteer
If you are interested in helping in a particular area of the state,
please use this section of our Web site to get in touch with local
officials, who are collecting a list of where and when volunteers
are most needed.
University of Iowa Foundation
Sources for this
article which include even more detailed information:
For those wishing to support the University as it struggles to
recover from flood-related damage not covered by insurance or other
resources, we encourage contributions to the UI Flood Relief Fund.
Center for Disease Control
is your online source for credible health information and is the
official Web site of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC). CDC is committed to achieving true improvements in people’s
health. CDC applies research and findings to improve people’s daily
lives and responds to health emergencies—something that distinguishes
CDC from its peer agencies. Working with states and other partners, CDC
provides a system of health surveillance to monitor and prevent disease
outbreaks (including bioterrorism), implement disease prevention
strategies, and maintain national health statistics. CDC also guards
against international disease transmission, with personnel stationed in
more than 25 foreign countries
FEMA – Federal Emergency Management
FEMA has more than 2,600 full time employees. They work at FEMA
headquarters in Washington D.C., at regional and area offices across the
country, the Mount Weather Emergency Operations Center, and the National
Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. FEMA also has nearly
4,000 standby disaster assistance employees who are available for
deployment after disasters. Often FEMA works in partnership with other
organizations that are part of the nation's emergency management system.
These partners include state and local emergency management agencies, 27
federal agencies and the American Red Cross.
National Flood Insurance Program
Congress established the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to
address both the need for flood insurance and the need to lessen the
devastating consequences of flooding. The goals of the program are
twofold: to protect communities from potential flood damage through
floodplain management, and to provide people with flood insurance.
SBA – Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an
independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and
protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free
competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall
economy of our nation. We recognize that small business is critical to
our economic recovery and strength, to building America's future, and to
helping the United States compete in today's global marketplace.
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