While It's easy to forget about potential flooding in the midst of enjoying another beautiful summer, it's incredibly important to stay prepared and ready at all times.
Floods are unpredictable and, unlike a predicted hurricane, leave little time to prepare. Following a hurricane especially, flash flooding can occur suddenly due to rapidly rising waters in low lying areas after days of heavy rains.
Floods are not only the most frequent natural and human caused disasters, they are also the most costly. And with the recent record flooding that wreaked havoc on Kauai’s North Shore in April of this year, and the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been estimated to repair the damages in residential, agricultural and commercial areas, it’s that much more evident that being prepared and informed in Hawai'i is incredibly crucial.
See below for a very helpful list from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency on what to do before, during and following an unexpected flood.
Before a flood
- Gather important documents like your flood insurance policy and homeowners insurance details
- Reduce the risk of damage from flooding by elevating critical utilities, such as electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems.
- Keep a supply of sandbags to direct floodwater away from your home
- Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
- Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
- Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
- Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked
- Make an emergency supply kit - Like this helpful supply list provided by FEMA
- Turn off utilities. Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- Call or text an out-of-state contact (non-808 area code contact) in your family
- Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
- Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a cap.
- Be aware that flash flooding can occur quickly and without warning so be prepared to move to higher ground and do not wait for instructions to do so.
- Secure your home and elevate essential items above potential water line. Turn off utilities. Disconnect electrical appliances.
During a Flash Flood: Stay informed!
- Listen for the State Outdoor Warning Sirens
- Emergency Alert System (EAS). EAS is used to alert the public about disasters using radio and television
- Island of Oahu: KSSK-AM 590, KRTR-FM 96.3
- Island of Maui: KMVI-AM 550
- Island of Kaua'i: KQNG-FM 93.5
- Island of Hawai'i (Hilo): KIPA-AM 620
- Island of Hawai'i (Kona): KKBG-FM 97.9
- Avoid contact with floodwaters which can be contaminated by gasoline or raw sewage. Floodwaters may also be electrically charged from downed power lines.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
Following a flood
- Return home only when authorities have indicated it is safe to do so.
- Address damaged sewage systems as soon as possible due to serious health hazards attached to overflowing septic tanks, cesspools and leaching systems.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet.
- Contact Premier Restoration Hawaii or another IICRC Certified professional water damage restoration company on your island to dry all affected areas that may have come in contact with the flood water as areas like drywall, carpet and flooring exposed to moisture may encounter mold growth after 72 hours of saturation.