Flooding Preparedness

City of Baton Rouge

Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States.

Floods may result from rain, snow, tropical systems, and overflows of dams and other water systems. Flooding can develop slowly or quickly, and flash floods can come with no warning. 

Know the Difference

  • Flash Flood Watch: issued to indicate current or developing hydrologic conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent.
  • Flash Flood Warning: issued to inform the public, emergency management, and other cooperating agencies that flash flooding is in progress, imminent, or highly likely.
Red Stick Ready Flash Flooding

What to Do Before a Flood

  • Know your flood risk. To learn more about flood zones in East Baton Rouge Parish, FEMA Flood Map Service Center
    • Flood Zones are used to determine if you have a federal requirement to carry flood insurance and to inform building regulations. visit National Flood Insurance Program for more information 
  • Consider getting flood insurance. Where it can rain, it can flood. Protection against loss due to floods is not covered under basic property insurance policies. All homeowners, renters, and business owners are eligible for flood insurance. Contact your property/casualty agent or broker about eligibility for flood insurance. For more information, visit the National Flood Insurance Program.
  • Make an itemized list of personal property, including furnishings, clothing, and valuables.
  • Make an emergency plan
  • Prepare a disaster kit that you can grab in case you need to leave your home in a hurry.
  • If you have a disability or access or functional need, make sure your plan addresses how your needs may affect your ability to respond in case of emergency. Arrange help from family, friends, or service providers if you will need assistance.
  • If you live in a flood-susceptible area, keep materials, such as sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber, on hand to help protect your home.

What to Do During a Flood

  • Call 911 if you are in immediate danger.
  • Never drive or walk through flooded areas. If you must travel during hazardous conditions, be cautious and do not drive around barricades placed for your safety. 
  • Watch out for fallen power lines and stay away from damaged areas.
  • Tune in to local TV and radio for officials' announcements.
  • Consider postponing outdoor activities.
  • Tie down or bring in outdoor objects (patio furniture, children's toys, trash cans, etc.) that could be swept away or damaged during flooding.  
  • Consider unplugging sensitive electronic equipment before flooding occurs. But, do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. 
  • Elevate items stored in your basement to prevent damage. If you have a sump pump, check that it is working.
  • Consider clearing street catch basins to prevent or reduce street flooding.

What to Do After a Flood

  • Before re-entering a building, check for structural damage. Make sure it is not in danger of collapsing. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank, and let the building air out for several minutes to remove foul odors or escaping gas.
  • Watch for electrical shorts or live wires before turning off the main power switch. Do not turn on any lights or appliances until an electrician has checked the system for short circuits.
  • Throw out fresh food and previously opened medicines that have come in contact with floodwaters.
  • If your water service was disrupted, run the tap for at least 30 seconds and until the water runs cold and clear. Replace all ice machine filters and beverage dispenser filters, and flush all water lines for five minutes.

Assessing and Repairing Damage

  • When surveying flood damage in a building lookout for mold, any newly formed cracks along the wall, and signs of foundation damage including bulging walls.
  • Heavy flooding can have a significant effect on the structural stability of outdoor structures such as decks, porches, and retaining walls. Take extra precautions near these outdoor structures, due to the potential for collapse.
  • Flooding can also cause the soil around buildings to shift. Be cautious of sinkholes forming on your property, especially near septic systems. Avoid areas around large trees if the surrounding soil is soft.
  • If the building is not safe to occupy, the owners should seek alternative housing arrangements while repairs are made. 
  • Owners should take pictures of all damage and flood impacts and keep receipts for all repairs if they intend to apply for disaster assistance or to make an insurance claim.
  • Extensive repair work in a building may require the services of a registered contractor as well as East Baton Rouge Parish Department of Development-issued work permits. Electrical wiring repairs will require the services of a licensed electrician. Gas plumbing system repairs will require the services of a licensed plumber. Check the license status of these construction professionals online with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors 

Cleaning After a Flood

  • Dry all areas and items quickly and thoroughly.
  • Dry clean or wash and dry all clothing and other home items. Clean floors, furniture, and other surfaces with detergent and water.
  • Stay out of deep water. Extensive flooding damage may require clean-up and restoration by professionals.
  • Keep children, pets, and people with compromised immune systems away until the area has been cleaned and disinfected.
  • Use protective eyewear and waterproof gloves and boots when cleaning or coming in contact with sewage.
  • Remove standing shallow water. Make sure to dry all objects and surfaces thoroughly to avoid mold growth.
  • Deep water and extensive flood damage may require professional cleanup and restoration.
  • Throw away any food (including packaged food) that may have been touched by sewage water.
  • Use soap and water to clean surfaces contaminated with sewage.
  • To disinfect, wipe surfaces with a bleach solution (half a cup of bleach in one gallon of water). Non-bleach sanitizers can also be used.
  • WARNING: Never mix bleach with ammonia or detergents containing ammonia products since dangerous gases may be created. Bleach can damage some materials, so use caution.
  • Wash clothes, bedding, and other fabrics contaminated with sewage with detergent and water. Dry them thoroughly. Dry clean items that cannot be washed.
  • After you finish cleaning, disinfect your boots and gloves with a solution of one-half cup of household bleach in one gallon of water. Rinse with clear water and allow the boots and gloves to air dry.

Prevent Mold Growth

  • Remove all wet, porous materials.
  • Fix leaks or report them to your building owner as soon as possible.
  • Use dehumidifiers if available. If the power is out, open windows for ventilation.

Learn more about  EPA - Mold