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Spring flood preparation tips

Spring is a time for new beginnings, but melting snow and rain can cause flooding. The snowy winter of 2022-2023 in Minnesota has resulted in high chances for flooding, especially along our major rivers. Just one inch of water can cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home. Extension has helpful information on flood preparation and recovery.

There are a number of strategies that you can use to ease the problems associated with floods and other disasters.

Prepare a grab-and-go file

Store a grab-and-go file folder or binder where all family members can quickly access it. Make sure that it is small enough to easily fit in a small travel bag and keep it in a waterproof container. 

If you choose to create a digital file with a cloud storage service, in your email or on a USB drive, it is still important to keep official paper copies safe. 

The following information should be in your grab-and-go file:

  • List of vital information, such as contact information for family as well as employers, doctors, etc.
  • Photocopies of important documents. Use the Roadmap for important papers (fillable form) to help you organize this information.
  • Insurance policy information (homeowners, renters, vehicle, health, etc.)
  • Bank, credit union, and credit card account information and phone numbers.
  • Safe deposit box keys and safe combination.
  • Computer usernames and passwords.
  • Some emergency cash.

Put together an emergency kit

Families can take many steps to plan for emergencies.

One of these steps is to have a packed bag ready to "grab and go" should an emergency arise. The kit should be water-resistant, easy to carry and include:

  • A flashlight.
  • Food for three days.
  • A plastic bag for sanitation purposes.
  • A cell phone charger.
  • Warm clothing.
  • National Weather Service battery-operated radio.

Consider the needs of older adults

An emergency kit for older adults and people with medical needs includes items specific to them, such as:

  • Medications.
  • Medical devices and medical alert tags.
  • Oxygen.
  • Batteries for hearing aids.
  • Lists of family contacts, medications, doctors and pharmacies complete with phone numbers.
  • Special instructions for care or comfort should the older person not be able to provide that information themselves.
  • A plan for any life-sustaining treatments they receive.

If an older family member is in a care facility in the disaster area, ask the facility about their disaster plans. For more information, see Tips for older adults.

Be financially prepared for a disaster

  • Have an emergency fund or other plan to help with unexpected expenses that could occur with floods.
  • Create and use a spending plan that includes income, expenses, and plans for larger expenses.
  • Try to have some cash on hand in case you don’t have the ability to access money in savings and checking accounts.

Know what you own and what is covered

  • Review your insurance and know what is covered. Talk with your insurance agent about coverage that you might want to add, and be sure to understand the deductibles in the policy.
  • Develop a home inventory to detail the items in your home in case you need to file an insurance claim and replace items. This can be as simple as taking pictures or videos on your phone and keeping a copy in cloud storage.
  • Know where your important documents and valued personal items are located. Keep important items in a waterproof and fireproof location. This might mean that they are in a plastic zipper bag in a fireproof box.

Start small

If these steps all sound overwhelming, start with looking at your spending plan and see if you can begin to set some money aside in case of an emergency. Start small and take just one action at a time to begin to prepare yourself for a disaster. Learn more about managing your personal finances and making a spending plan

Extension has further resources for how to prepare for a disaster and flooding, including preparing for emergencies on the farm, as well as how to clean up and recover after a flood.

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