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With flood risk likely to be high, FEMA advises precautions

Mar 17, 2017 - From staff reports

With the potential rising for flooding in Fremont County this spring, emergency management officials are encouraging local residents to purchase insurance plans to protect themselves from financial losses related to natural disasters.

Mountain snowpack in the Wind River drainage has been at or near 200 percent of average this month. The Bureau of Reclamation forecasts spring runoff well above average int he coming months.

"Parts of Wyoming, including Fremont County, have already experienced localized flooding due mostly to ice jams, and spring melt off will follow," Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jerry DeFelice said.

"It is important that residents and businesses know that it takes 30 days for a flood insurance policy to take effect, so the window may be closing."

Unlike fire, wind, hail or most other perils, flood damage is not covered by a typical homeowners policy, according to a FEMA statement, but a National Flood Insurance Program policy can ensure that a flood doesn't bring financial ruin.

The statement noted that residents don't have to live in a flood plain to purchase a NFIP policy. In fact, people who live outside of a flood plain may be eligible for a preferred risk policy that has a much lower premium than for a policy in a higher flood risk area.

The average flood insurance premium nationwide is about $700 a year, FEMA says. For more information visit floodsmart.gov or call (800) 427-2419.

Other steps homeowners can take to protect their property include:

- Making sure downspouts carry water several feet from the house to a well-drained area. About 2,500 gallons of water will come from a 1,000 square foot roof with one foot of snow depth across the roof. This much water may cause problems if allowed to drain next to the house.

- Examining and cleaning sump pumps. Test the sump pump by pouring water into the pit. Make sure the discharge hose carries the water several feet away from the house to a well-drained area. Also make sure that the pipe is on sloped ground so it drains to prevent it from freezing.

- Removing snow from around rural yards to minimize soft, wet soil conditions. A 20-foot diameter, 10-foot high pile of snow contains about 2,600 gallons of water. Move the snow to well-drained areas.

- Anchoring any fuel tanks. An unanchored tank in the basement can be torn free by floodwaters, and the broken supply line can contaminate the basement. An unanchored tank outside can be swept downstream, where it can damage other houses.

- Having a licensed electrician raise electric components (switches, sockets, circuit breakers and wiring) at least 12 inches above the home's projected flood elevation.

- Placing the furnace and water heater on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.

- Elevating a basement washer and dryer on masonry or pressure-treated lumber at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation.

- Planning and practicing a flood evacuation route.

- Asking an out-of- state relative or friend to be the "family contact" in case home occupants are separate during a flood. Make sure everyone in the household knows the name, address and phone number of this contact person.

Call (888) 379-9531 or visit FloodSmart.gov to learn more about potential flood risks, flood insurance and how to prepare for floods.

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