Be Your Own Flood Insurance.

A few years ago, Iowa City flooded after a horrible winter followed by a rainy spring. Roads were closed. The University closed. People were forced out of their homes with very little notice (one of the professors I worked for had to pack and relocate her family in one day). Businesses suffered as students and locals evacuated. The whole city reeked like shit and standing water. When the water finally receded, sludge filled the basements of buildings, and farmland lay in stagnant, festering impotence. Dirt and grunge stained once-beautiful structures, and a layer of trash and sand (a valiant effort by sandbaggers, washed away by mother nature) covered the streets.

Yet, those who didn’t live in the “flood plain” were not stocking up on food and water. They were not finding emergency accommodations, or planning evacuation routes. Well, except me. I kept thinking, “When it floods, it keeps on flooding.” For months after the initial overflow, life would need rearranged. I didn’t understand why more people weren’t filling their carts, but then I realized something: they think they’re in the clear because there’s no water in their basements. Because they’re on higher ground.

True, your house is not in a flood plain, but your water is. Do you really think that water starts when you turn the tap on? It has to come from somewhere. And yes, the sewage treatment is separate from the water supply… but what happens when it overflows? Your water may need to be shut off as sewers overflow. Your house is not on a flood plain, but a lot of your food is (if you buy local). So are the roads that bring outside food to the grocery stores, the roads that could get you out of town.

No, I am not suggesting that you stock up for the apocalypse and start burning your furniture for warmth, but why leave yourself unprepared? You should have a few gallons of water to “Flush and Brush”, a plan for getting out of Dodge, and some nonperishable food in your cupboards.

This year, as the other side of Iowa floods, I see the same cyclical pattern. A lack of planning (Gee, we had a ton of snow this year. The river’s looking a little high. Maybe we should divert some water so we don’t flood out the whole city?) results in a preventable disaster. Rain clouds loom overhead. I find that with most things, it gets worse before it gets better.

So, your homework this week: Know what to do before everyone else scrambles.

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