How Prepared Are You For a Flood or Natural Disaster in the Midwest?

June 23, 2020

Floods can be devastating. After each event, news reports show submerged homes and underwater roadways, while homeowners tell harrowing stories of near misses and property damage. 

This year, navigating a flood could be especially difficult. During COVID-19, first responders are already stretched thin. People living in areas prone to flooding may struggle to evacuate while social distancing. Plus, it's hard to keep up the hand-washing routine if the city water has been shut off because of a flood. 

In many cases, flood preparation will determine how well your household weathers the storm.

How Many People Are Prepared for a Flood or Major Disaster?

To learn more about the state of disaster preparedness across the Midwest, we surveyed more than 1,000 people. The results reveal that 59 percent of respondents have minimal to no preparation for a flood or major disaster.

How prepared are you for a flood or major disaster

How prepared are you for a flood or major disaster?

  • Not prepared at all: 31.5%
  • Minimally prepared (I have a few things): 27.3%
  • Somewhat prepared (Some food and gear): 27.8%
  • Very prepared (Food, dry bag, sump pumps, etc.): 13.4% 

Who Was Included in the Survey?

Our focus was on flood preparedness in the Midwest and the states that have frequent floods. 

We received 1,014 responses from Missouri, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

Most Midwesterners Are Not Prepared for a Flood

In many of the states we included in our survey, the historical flood impact is high. However, 58.7 percent of respondents say they have little to no preparation for a flood or major disaster.

This means when a major storm is predicted, many people could risk greater flood damage or more dire consequences. 

On the other hand, 13.4 percent of people reported that they were very prepared for a flood or major disaster. They have a stock of food and gear. They're prepared with tools and a dry bag to protect important papers. They've also taken measures such as adding a sump pump to their basement or other flood mitigation steps.

When we dig further into the data, we find that there's a gender variance. Males are 42 percent more likely than females to be very prepared for a flood.

There's an Age Gap For Flood Preparedness

When compared to all survey respondents, there is a clear trend that those who are younger are less likely to be prepared for a natural disaster while those who are older are more likely to be very prepared. 

Those aged 25 to 44 are 11 percent more likely to have little to no preparation, as compared to other age groups. 

Conversely, those aged 65+ are 49 percent more likely to be very prepared than all other age groups.

These age-based differences could be a factor of a number of circumstances. For example, it could be influenced by the demographics of homeowners versus renters. Preparation could also be a factor of time use with retirees having more time for home maintenance and flood mitigation.

It could also be that the older age bracket has seen more floods in their lifetime and may have the personal incentive to take precautions based on the damage they've witnessed. 

What Can You Do Now to Prepare for a Flood?

Even households that live on higher ground need to take steps to prepare for a flood as fast-moving water can quickly overtake a neighborhood or create a widespread problem. 

Start by improving your knowledge. 

Use the FEMA flood maps to understand your flood risk and determine a safe evacuation route. Sign up for emergency alerts so you'll be informed if there is a flash flood warning or other imminent threat. Add smart water sensors to your basement or crawl space so that if your home starts to flood, you'll receive an instant alert. 

Next, take steps to protect your home. 

Install a sump pump so you can quickly and automatically pump standing water out of your house. If it has a backup battery, it can still pump water even when the power goes out. Elevate your utilities and power lines. Install check valves to prevent floodwaters from affecting your plumbing. Consider investing in flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Take steps to waterproof your basement or crawl space. You can get a free inspection from a pro who can recommend solutions such as encapsulation, dehumidification, better drainage, or another solution to solve the unique needs of your property. 

Also, start gathering supplies. An emergency kit should include nonperishable food and a supply of water. Also gather essentials like a flashlight, batteries, a weather radio, and a dry bag to protect important documents and technology.

Learn more about how the Groundworks team is helping people protect their homes and preserve their investment.