Emergency preparedness for floods

Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States, and should be a priority concern for businessowners occupying facilities subject to floods.  Flooding can be caused by bodies of water (rivers, streams, oceans, bays, lakes, canals, etc.) overflowing their normal boundaries, or as the result of storm water runoff accumulating in normally dry areas. If your facility is situated in a flood zone or has experienced flooding in the past, a well-thought-out emergency plan is vital.  

If a facility is located within a known flood zone, the challenge of managing the flood risk is greatly increased.  The goals then become to ensure that:

  • Operations can continue without interruption
  • The facility suffers the least possible amount of physical damage

The following steps should be taken to prepare flood precautionary measures before a flood occurs:

  • Determine if the facility is within a flood prone zone.
  • Create a flood emergency action plan with team/key employees. This should include a communication plan and steps to monitor weather warnings.
  • For each structure, identify areas and floors that are likely to be flooded, and ensure they are used solely for nonessential operations.
  • Ensure valuable storage is located above the 500-year flood level (this includes both high-value equipment and storage of records).
  • Have a plan using mechanical means if necessary, to move vital production machinery to a higher level.
  • Consider having emergency power equipment (generators) available or include plans for a generator rental agreement.
  • Tanks or structures that may float should be anchored.
  • Electrical or other critical utilities should be located above the 500-year flood zone.
  • Consider check valves in drainage or sewer systems to prevent backflow into the building.
  • Plan for flood barriers as a deterrent at perimeter openings subject to flood.
  • Keep sandbags and drain plugs on hand to deter water entry.
  • Consider stand-by pumps as a valuable tool to help remove water if a flood occurs.
  • Include flood precautionary measures in your business continuity plan.

Once a flood has occurred, the following procedures can help mitigate the damage:

  • Initiate the business continuity plan with key employees, vendors, and designated outsources.
  • After jurisdictional approval, return to your property and check the exterior for damage. This may include inspecting for cracks in the foundation, roof damage, missing structural beams, or other damage.
  • Look for downed power lines; do not touch downed lines or stand in water that may be electrified to prevent the risk of electrocution.
  • From the exterior, inspect the utility lines (such as gas lines) for cracks or leaks.
  • Begin the cleanup process, which includes drying out the facility, equipment and stock.
  • Contact your professional insurance agency regarding flood coverage.

Include your local authorities for consultation as well as your Hanover Risk Solutions Consultant.

This material is provided for informational purposes only and does not provide any coverage or guarantee loss prevention. The examples in this material are provided as hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations contained herein will make any premises, or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC 2021-600