How to Prepare for a Flood
Being prepared and knowing what to do during a flood helps protect your family and limit damage to property.
Easy, Less Expensive, & Moderately Effective
Downspouts and Gutters
- Regularly clear out leaves and other debris
- Extend downspout outlet away from home’s foundation
- Discharge to splash pad. Ensure splash pad drains to pervious, grassy, and properly graded areas
- Consider discharging downspout to a rain barrel
- Window Wells
- Install window wells and/or replace windows with brick style (waterproof) glass
- Install window well cover to restrict water entering well
- Patch or repair leaks and cracks in home’s foundation
- Regrade any landscaping adjacent to your home so that the grading slants away from your home and moves runoff away from your basement. More complicated grading can be done but can get expensive.
- Video: Proper Lot Grading to Prevent Basement Flooding
- Keep storm drains on your street clear of leaves and debris to allow runoff to flow quickly into the storm sewer.
Longer Term, More Expensive, & More Effective
Install Sump Pumps
- Use pump with battery backup.
- See Basement Drainage Guide
- Install Sanitary Sewer Backflow Preventers
- Sanitary Sewer Lateral Maintenance
- Replace or repair sanitary service lateral to remove cracks and loose joints.
- Consider installing a rain garden to help minimize the volume of runoff entering the City’s stormwater infrastructure.
- Consider obtaining flood insurance and fully understand the insurance coverage. FEMA or private flood insurance are available. Contact your insurance agent for more information.
Other Considerations and Preventative Measures
- Understand your drainage before you do landscaping or building additions. Small changes may have negative impacts.
- Be a good neighbor and don’t make their problem worse by solving your drainage issue. Find mutually agreeable ways to drain water from your properties.
- Do not store valuables in your basement if you have problems with groundwater or flooding. Items that are stored in the basement should be kept off the floor if there are concerns with water or sewage damage.
- Avoid planting trees over the sanitary service lateral. Roots can damage or disrupt the pipe which is expensive to repair.
- Avoid pouring fats, oils and grease down your sinks to help prevent sewer backups.
For more detailed descriptions of issues, view the Handbook for Reducing Basement Flooding.
Report Flooding & Damages
Report flooding and damages to private or public lands in the City of Madison.
Please note that this form is not a report to FEMA. Dane County residents can apply for FEMA disaster assistance before Dec. 18, 2018.
General Extreme Weather Preparedness
Have access to reliably obtain weather information and receive flooding alerts if they are issued:
- NOAA weather radio
- Social media, weather apps or other internet resources
Flood Prevention Diagrams
Images credit to the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction.
Bad Flood Prevention
- Foundation, wall, and sewer cracks.
- Lot is graded towards the building.
- Downspouts discharge near the foundation and/or to the public storm sewer.
- Drain tile is connected to the sanitary sewer and is in poor condition.
- Window well is not covered and the window is single pane and not waterproof.
- No sump pump and backflow prevention is installed.
Good Flood Prevention
- Foundation, wall, and sewer are in good condition.
- Lot graded away from the building.
- Downspouts effectively discharge away from building.
- Sump pump and backflow prevention are in place and in good condition.
- Window well is covered.
- Drain tile is connected to sump pump which has a battery backup or generator.