Beach Flood Tips & Hurricane Preparedness for Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Dewey Beach,
Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island, Delaware, and Ocean City, Maryland
It has been more than 30 years since a storm wrought catastrophic damage on the Delaware and Maryland coast.
Not so since Hurricane Sandy stuck the east coast from Virginia Beach all the way up through the New Jersey beaches and New York City. (Pictures to the left).
And even though numerous hurricanes and Nor'easters have passed by since the Storm of 1962 swept tons of sand and gallons of saltwater onto the streets of our resort towns, hurricanes in Florida and the Carolinas should serve as fair warning to homeowners on the Delmarva Peninsula.
Following is a look at some things you can do to prepare for a major storm and its aftermath.
Preparing for a Major Coastal Storm or Hurricane
You can take some immediate, precautionary measures, such as those listed below, to prepare for a flood or major coastal storm.
- Have 3 - 5 days of food & water stocked and ready for use in case you get stranded without resources. Don't wait till the storm is forecast to gather your supplies as supermarkets & grocery stores will either be mobbed or sold out. Relying on emergency services to supply your after-the-storm needs is irresponsible and places an undue burden on emergency resources when they are provided.
having a fuel powered generator standing by in case if electrical power is unavailable for extended periods of time.
- Make an itemized list of personal property, such as Furnishings, Clothing and Valuables.
- Take photos of your house inside and out to assist in settling insurance claims and to prove uninsured losses for tax deductions.
- Keep your insurance policies in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box.
- Know the safest route from your home or business to the nearest shelter, nearest friend or relative living in a fairly safe area, or other high, safe ground.
- Because electricity will likely be knocked out, keep a portable radio, emergency cooking equipment, working flashlights with extra batteries and possibly a generator.
- If your area floods frequently, always have a good stock of sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber to protect your property.
Surviving a Major Coastal Storm or Hurricane
Do not take predictions of a major coastal storm lightly. Since floodwaters can rise quickly, be ready to evacuate before the water reaches your home. Then, take the following steps, if necessary, to protect you and your family.
- Listen to your battery powered radio for updates and instructions for your area.
- When you are outside of your house, avoid flooded roads and do not try to walk through floodwaters.
- Turn off all utilities at the main power switch and close the main gas valve if you are likely to evacuate. Only touch electrical equipment in dry areas and only if you are standing on a dry piece of wood and wearing rubber gloves and rubber-soled boots or shoes.
- Move all valuables, including valuable papers, to higher floors or elevations that won't be reached by water.
- Fill your bathtubs, sinks and jugs with clean water in the event the regular water supply is contaminated. Rinse with bleach to sanitize these items first.
- Either board up windows or protect them with storm shutters.
- Bring outdoor furniture, garbage cans, and other moveable objects into the house or tie them down very securely.
- Stock your car with nonperishable foods such as canned goods, a plastic container of water, blankets, first aid kit, flashlights with extra batteries, dry clothes, and any special medication required by family members.
- Make sure your car's gas tank is at least half full as a major storm approaches because gas pumps probably won't be working.
- Do not attempt to drive through flooded roads since parts of the road may already be washed out.
- If your car should stall in a flooded area, abandon it as quickly as possible since floodwaters can rise very quickly and sweep a car and its occupants away. Do not try to move the vehicle -- many deaths have resulted from trying to move stalled vehicles.
- If you're caught in your home and can't escape, move to the second floor or, if necessary, to the roof. Take warm clothes, a flashlight with extra batteries, and a portable radio and wait for help. Do not try to swim to safety. Rescue workers will be looking for you.
A Post-Storm Checklist
Besides immediately calling your insurance agent to file a claim for any flood damages to your property, there are some basic safety precautions you should take before re-entering your home.
- Check for structural damage before entering the house and be sure it isn't in danger of collapsing. Turn off outside gas lines at the meter or tank and if you smell gas, call your gas company.
- When you enter your home, do not use an open flame such as a match, candle or lighter for light. Gas may still be trapped inside the house. Instead, use a battery-powered flashlight.
- Be sure the electricity is turned off at the main power switch and watch for downed electrical wires. Don't turn any electrical utilities or appliances on until an electrician has checked the system for short circuits.
- Cover broken windows and holes in the roof or walls.
- Begin cleanup. There will be many potential health hazards in a flooded home. Perishable items, for instance, pose a health problem and should be photographed and listed before tossing out. You should also throw out all fresh food and medicines that have been contacted by flood water.
- Do not use the home's water supply until it has been declared safe. Until it has, drain your hot water tank or melt ice cubes if you're facing an emergency that requires water.
- Photograph the damage to your home and its contents prior to the adjustor's inspection. Your refrigerator, sofas and other hard goods should be hosed off, as well. For items you will keep, use a household cleaner. Partially damaged items should be aired and dried.
- Wooden furniture should be taken outdoors to dry but should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent warping. Use a garage or carport if you have one. Remove drawers and other moving parts from wooden furniture but do not try to pry open a swollen drawer. Instead, take the back off the piece and push the drawers out from the rear.
- Shovel out the mud while it's moist to give your home's walls and floors a chance to dry. When plastered walls have dried, brush off the loose dirt. Then wash the walls with a household cleaner and rinse with clean water. You should always start at the bottom of the wall and work your way up. You must also clean out your heating ducts and plumbing system.
- To remove mildew from dry wood, use a solution of 1 cup liquid chlorine bleach in 1 gallon of water.
- Clean metal items immediately with a cloth soaked in kerosene. You can prevent rusting by wiping the item down with a light coat of oil. Scour all of your utensils and if necessary, use a fine steel wool pad on unpolished surfaces. Scrubbing with a solution of vinegar, cream of tartar and hot water will brighten aluminum items.
- Immediately separate all laundry to avoid running colors. Clothing or household fabrics should be allowed to dry before removing dirt. You can rinse the items in lukewarm water to remove stubborn soil. Then wash with a mild detergent, rinse, and dry in sunlight.
- Flooded basements pose special problems. Drain and clean them carefully because structural damage will occur if you pump the water out too quickly. After the flood waters in the basement have subsided, drain the basement in stages, by about one-third each day.