When the high temperatures only reach the low 20s, few people are worried about snowmelt.
There will come a day this spring, however, when temperatures do rise above 32 degrees, and there will be flooding concerns.
As Michigan warms up after this winter's record-breaking snow and cold, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division (MSP/EMHSD) is encouraging residents to prepare for flooding.
"Now is the time to think about flooding preparedness and safety," said Capt. Chris A. Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD. "This spring's flooding will depend on a delicate balance between time, temperature and rainfall. A slow melt and thaw will reduce the chances of an emergency or disaster."
The National Weather Service is forecasting a 40 to 90 percent flood risk for the state of Michigan. The typical flood risk for this time of year is 5 to 20 percent. A higher risk for flooding does not mean record flooding will occur but indicates that some flooding is likely.
A quick spring thaw or heavy rain could lead to widespread flooding statewide. While flooding is most prevalent near low-lying areas and bodies of water, it can occur almost anywhere, including near small streams, creeks and even basements.
To prepare for a flood:
- Create an emergency preparedness kit with a 72-hour supply of water, including three gallons per person.
- Scan and store important documents on an online, cloud-based program.
- Put important documents and valuables in a water-proof container on the top floor of your home.
- Understand how to safely turn off electricity and gas lines in your home.
- Create an inventory of your household items and take photos of the interior and exterior of your home.
- Consider installing sewer backflow valves to prevent flood water from backing up into your home through drain pipes.
- Double-check sump pumps to ensure they are working properly. If possible, have a battery backup system.
- Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.
- Find out how many feet your property is above or below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
- Raise or flood-proof heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment by elevating equipment above areas prone to flooding. Another method is to leave equipment where it is and build a concrete or masonry block flood wall around it.
- Anchor fuel tanks. Unanchored fuel tanks can be easily moved by floodwaters.
In addition to flooding preparedness, residents are encouraged to purchase flood insurance. Homeowners' or property owners' insurance does not typically cover flood damage.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) estimates that 90 percent of all natural disasters involve flooding.
An inch of water can require a property owner to replace carpet, drywall, floor boards, moldings, doors and other belongings. Additionally, clean-up of mud and residue can be costly, as can repairing any mold and mildew damage that may occur.
To be covered from flood damage, an individual must purchase National Flood Insurance through an insurance broker who works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. For more information, go to www.floodsmart.gov.
For more information about what to do before, during and after flooding, go to the Michigan Flood Ready website at www.michigan.gov/mifloodready.