How to Survive Being Displaced by a Flood

If you are one of the 10,000 Michiganders forced to evacuate your home because of flooding, you may not have even had time to think about what your next steps should be. Watching your home fill with water — or worse, wash away — is traumatic. But as the shock wears off, it’s critical that you prepare yourself for the coming days or weeks of displacement.

Here are some things you can do to survive and bounce back from the flood.

Gather Disaster Supplies

In a perfect world, you had an emergency kit put together and were able to grab it before leaving your home. As we all know, though, ours is not a perfect world. You may not have had a chance to build the kit, or even to go home before being displaced.

It may be tough in this time of crisis, but here are some of the supplies you should try to acquire (or double-check that you have) while displaced:

  • Water (one gallon per day per person; at least three days’ worth)
  • Non-perishable food (at least a three-day supply) and can opener
  • Medication (seven-day supply)
  • First aid kit
  • Cash or traveler’s checks
  • Important documents such as passports/IDs, insurance policies, leases, etc.
  • Pet food and water
  • Cloth face coverings
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Portable generator
  • Matches
  • Local maps
  • Sleeping bags/blankets
  • Whistle (to signal for help)

Some of these supplies may have been lost to the flood, or they could be inaccessible to you. Others you may be able to pick up at a drugstore, grocery store, or relief center. Just do the best you can under the circumstances.

Look for Resources Being Offered to Displaced Residents

You may have had to flee your home empty-handed, but keep in mind that you’re not alone. When disasters such as floods and hurricanes strike, communities often rally to help. Listen to the radio and check online for resources and relief centers that may be available to you.

In central Michigan, many groups have stepped up to lend their support:

If you were displaced by the breach of the Edenville and Sanford Dams, and you need help, dial 211 or visit the Midland County Disaster Resources website.

“Turn Around, Don’t Drown”

Finally, this may seem self-evident, you should avoid roads and other areas that are overrun with water whenever possible. You may think you can make it through, but even six inches or one foot of water can cause problems while driving. A good rule to keep in mind is “Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”

Here are some other things you can do to mitigate risk during or after a flood:

  • Check news reports to see if the local water supply is safe to drink
  • Watch for downed power lines and report any you see to the power company (some water may be electrically charged)
  • Keep in mind that roads, bridges, and buildings may have been weakened by floodwaters, and could be less structurally sound as a result
  • Only return home AFTER authorities say it is safe to do so
  • Take photos of all flood damage for insurance or legal purposes
  • Clean and disinfect everything in your home that got wet
  • Repair/service damaged sewage systems as soon as possible

Floods are devastating events, but by taking the steps outlined above, you can put yourself in a better position to keep your family safe and recover from this disaster.

Those displaced by the floods may be eligible to file a lawsuit to get compensation for their losses. Take this quiz to see if you have a case.