Weekend warmup could mean flooding

CHICAGO – After a historic Arctic freeze across much of the Midwest, flooding concerns aren’t likely top of mind for most. However, with a possible temperature swing of 60 to 70 degrees in many areas by the weekend, the risks of flooding from snow melt, ice jams and water run-off are very real.

Those risks will remain a threat as the warmer months of spring grow nearer.

“While we are in the middle of the winter season and cold temperatures are on our minds, it’s important to remember that the rapid change in weather and snow melt could lead to dangerous flooding,” said James K. Joseph, FEMA Region V Administrator. “It’s important for individuals to monitor their local forecast closely and always heed the direction of local officials to stay safe when hazardous weather conditions exist.”

Officials urge residents to take precautions to protect their homes:

• Clear snow piles away from the foundation to prevent water seepage indoors when the snow melts;

• Inspect the basement and foundation walls now. Close any foundation cracks with mortar and masonry caulk or hydraulic cement, which expands and fills gaps completely. Seal walls in the basement with waterproofing compounds, making sure floor drains are free of obstructions;

• Remove ice and snow from the home’s drains and gutters and be sure downspouts extend at least two to three feet away from the house. Prevent surface flooding by making sure sewer and stormwater drains are also clear of snow and ice;

• Consider a sump pump for the basement. Sump pumps propel groundwater away from the home and can be an excellent defense against basement seepage and flooding. Choose a battery-operated sump pump in case the power goes out;

• Install backflow valves. Have a licensed plumber install sewer backflow valves for all pipes entering the building to prevent floodwater and wastewater from backing up into the home through toilets, sinks and other drains; and

• Contact your insurance agent and make sure you’re properly covered. Most homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover flood damage and sewer back-up coverage is often an add-on coverage to a homeowner’s policy. Talk to your agent about what policies you may need to financially protect your home.

Find more information and tips on being ready for the dangers of flooding at www.ready.gov/flood and learn more about flood insurance options by visiting www.floodsmart.gov.

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