HELENA — Lewis and Clark County is encouraging residents to start thinking about and planning for potential flooding.
People are encouraged to purchase flood insurance for their home or property if they are not currently covered. In most cases, standard homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood events and most flood insurance policies take 30 days to go into effect. Additionally, flood insurance typically does not cover flooding from groundwater.
Approximately 25 percent of flood-related damage occurs outside of the designated floodplain.
With the County’s Floodplain Management Program residents are eligible for a 10% discount on floodplain insurance.
Proactive mitigation action people can take to prepare for flooding can often make a big difference when flooding does occur.
As it continues to snow this spring, shovel or plow snow away from homes and other structures. Maintain natural drainage by cleaning culverts and removing debris from ditches and low-lying areas. This includes removing debris, garbage, grass clippings and anything else that can hinder water flows.
Waterproofing basements and making sure the sump pump is working can greatly reduce damage to a home. Battery-operated backups are also recommended in case of a power failure.
Other home steps that can be taken include: elevating critical utilities such as electrical panels, switches, sockets, wiring, appliances and heating systems; move furniture, valuables and important documents to a safe place; and anchor outside fuel tanks.
Residents are also advised to keep sandbags and sand on hand if they are in a flood-prone area.
Should flooding occur in the area, it is best to avoid contact with floodwaters if possible. All floodwaters should be considered contaminated by sewage and wastewater, pet and livestock waste and other pollutants. People working in floodwaters should take precautions to avoid ingestion or content to the extent practicable.
Flooding can contaminate water systems, so make sure to keep extra drinking water on hand. Have an evacuation plan in place and a “go-bag” ready should you have to leave your residence due to flooding.
If you take critical medications and live in a flood-prone area, make sure to have enough on hand in the event you are unable to get out for several days.
In Lewis and Clark County a permit is required before developing in the floodplain, which includes buildings, bridges, culverts, wells, fill or any alteration of the floodplain.
Contact the County Floodplain Manager in the Community Development and Planning Department with questions or for a permit application at 406- 447-8374. More information on floodplain management can be found on the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation website.