How to Prepare for a Flood in Houston

By Jessica Bivins, July 5, 2017, Family

During rainy months in Houston, it’s important for all residents to stay aware and be prepared for the dangers of flooding.

How Can I Prepare for a Flood in Houston? | Bounce Energy Blog

Why does it flood in Houston?

With Houston’s warm, humid air that brings around 50 inches of precipitation in an average year, it’s not unheard of for a weather system to dump 8, 9 or 10 inches of rain, perhaps more, in a 24-hour period. Add in the city’s water-retaining clay soils and the Buffalo Bayou, and what you have are ideal conditions for flooding.

The city’s founders did recognize early on that flooding was an issue for the city. Back in the 1940s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built reservoirs to contain the runoff, according to a 2016 article by the Associated Press. While that’s kept the waters at bay for several decades, Houston’s growth hasn’t kept pace with the flood control projects needed to contain the runoff that comes with all those newly built hard surfaces, according to that same piece. The population stands at 2 million people, having increased by 30 percent since 2000. With that growth comes a 25 percent increase of pavement that covers the city.

“Think about every time you put in a road, a mall and you add concrete, you’ve lost the ability of rain to get into the soil and you’ve lost that permeability,” Walter Peacock, an urban planning professor at Texas A&M University in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor. “It’s now impermeable. And therefore, you get more runoff.”

In order to combat the flooding, the city faces billions in flood control projects, according to the Associated Press article. Until then, here are a few things you can do to keep you and your family safe from the hazards of flooding.

How Can I Prepare for a Flood in Houston? | Bounce Energy Blog

How to prepare for a flood

Holding back the floodwaters is a tall order. But preventive maintenance and a safety plan will help you get to the best possible outcome once the waters recede.

Move your utilities: FEMA recommends having your gas and electric meter elevated, as well as your breaker box and air conditioner, to reduce the risk of flood damage. Before you start, seek out a professional opinion from your HVAC service and your local utility.

Consider some flood-proofing upgrades: If you’re doing home improvements, this is a good time to make your house more resistant to flood damage. Things like metal doors for the garage and entryway, glass block for lower-story windows, and ground-level tile flooring can all reduce the potential for structural damage caused by flooding.

Build a barrier: A retaining wall or levy built around the house, along with a sump pump system, can be a very effective solution at keeping rising waters at bay. Other solutions are keeping sandbags at the ready or investing in some other barrier product on the market.

Check your insurance policy: A typical homeowner’s policy will not include flooding. But you can most likely take out a separate policy through the National Flood Insurance Program. Take time to go over it so you understand what is covered and what is not.

Make a flood plan: When a flood watch or warning is issued, you may have very little time to act. Make your to-do list ahead of time so you can secure your home and evacuate quickly. Know how to work your electric breaker box and the emergency shut-off for natural gas. Keep a battery-operated radio and flashlight ready, with plenty of spare batteries, as well as a fully charged power bank for your phone. Then, spend some time with the website Ready Houston, which has plenty of tips and resources to help you prepare.

How Can I Prepare for a Flood in Houston? | Bounce Energy Blog

During the flood

Drive with care: Never drive through standing water. Even if you have a full-sized pickup or SUV, it can still float in water no more than 2 feet deep! If you encounter a flooded roadway, keep yourself and your family safe. Turn around and try a different way.

Watch for fallen power lines: Whether the power lines are on the ground — or worse, in the water — it’s important to not get any closer, but back away immediately. Make sure kids and pets are kept away from the danger as well. Then, call your power company to report the problem.

Keep your distance: If you were evacuated from your home, don’t return until local officials give you the all-clear.

Flooding is a serious event that can cause a lot of damage and even be dangerous to your safety. It will be worth your time to be prepared so you can create the best possible outcome from a bad situation.

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