Winter Warms Ups Can Cause Serious Water Damage and Flooding
Warmer weather can bring flooding to some areas of the country because of rapidly melting snows and ice jams on local rivers. Melting snow piled up along roadways will also cause the water to pool on the highway creating a driving hazard. Additionally, colder temperatures at night will create ice on the highways.
Winters always create hazards to life and limb but it appears that this year the hazards are compounded by heavier snows, colder than normal temperature and then rapid changes in the temperature.
You may not have received a significant amount of snow in your area but local rivers and waterways are affected by events miles upstream. Even if the local rivers are not frozen over, they can be frozen upstream.
The ice can jam at any point along its journey as it thaws and breaks up and begins floating loose. Ice jams at narrower points in the river can cause significant overland flooding in some areas. It is important to stay informed so you can react before rising floodwaters reach your community. Flooding can of course wash away bridges and highways leaving you stranded in your own neighborhood.
Things You Can Do Now
Make sure any storm drains or culverts that you have access to or are on your property are kept free of debris. Piled up leaves, sticks and gravel can cause storm drains/culverts to back up and flood the surrounding area.
Make sure your sump pumps are in working order because even if the local rivers do not rise the ground water can rise from melting snow and rains and this can flood your basement.
Be careful of accumulated snow on your roof. Accumulation of snow over the season can cause a roof to collapse and then there is the danger of snow and ice sliding off the roof and striking people or damaging vehicles. Snow guards designed to prevent snow/ice slides can easily be overwhelmed by heavier than expected snowfalls.
Use caution when using snow racks to remove snow from roofs because of overhead power lines. It is not recommend that you climb onto your roof to remove snow because of the additional weight and the possibility of falling.
Melting snow will cause water runoff and if gutters and drain spouts are clogged the water can backup under the roofing material and cause damage to your roof decking and ultimately the interior of your home. Water backed up in gutters that freezes can cause damage to your roof that may not be evident until the ice thaws.
Have a plan before you need one. Once you see water rising along the streets is not the time to begin planning for evacuation or to begin preparing your home.
Water can rise rapidly with little warning, especially if ice and water overwhelms a levee or dam causing either one to rupture. Slowly rising water is of course easier to deal with than a burst dam or levee. In either scenario however, thinking ahead can save your life.
If you live near a dam or levee, know what is happening upstream so you can make informed decisions and evacuate early. It is better to evacuate and not have any thing happen then to stay and face an onslaught of rushing water.
Make sure you have emergency supplies packed and ready. If you evacuate you should take your supplies with you because it may be several days before emergency shelters and disaster relief are operational. Local shelters may not have any supplies at the ready and because of the flooding; they may not be operational at all.
Your supplies must be packed so they can be easily carried and you can even place them in your vehicle well before the thought of evacuation arises. Water, food, medicines, blankets and clothing will be priorities as well as a means of communication.
Have all your important paper work packed so it can be easily carried with you. You will need this paperwork to file for any disaster relief or even to re-enter your neighborhood because of curfews. The local authorities in some cases verify the identity of people before allowing them back into certain areas to help prevent looting.
A life jacket for each family member is also recommended. If you have pets make sure, you have prepared an evacuation kit for them as well, that includes food, blankets/bedding, medicines and water.