• Stockpile and replenish emergency building materials such as sandbags, plastic sheeting, and lumber.
• Keep your car, truck, or other vehicles fueled. If electric power is disrupted, gas station pumps may be out of operation for several days.
• Check your horse or livestock trailers to make sure they are in useable condition.
• Make family and animal evacuation plans.
• If you are in a flash flood area, plan several alternate routes to ensure rapid evacuation.
• If you have a large number of cattle or horses, anticipate the course floodwaters might take.
Start moving animals in advance of any danger. Even if the evacuation turns out to have been unnecessary, at least you have practiced for the time when it might be necessary.
• Identify ways to keep animals safely confined while they are evacuated and living in a temporary setting.
• Ensure that animals are properly identified—keep a collar and identification tag on pets at all times so that if they get lost during a flood, you have a better chance of getting them back. Ideally tags should also list an out-of-state contact.
• Maintain your animal’s vaccinations against rabies and tetanus.
Floods: Mitigation Measures
• Determine if you are in the floodplain, and if so, purchase flood insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a Federal program enabling property owners to purchase flood insurance.
• If you graze livestock or horses in floodplains, be prepared to move them to higher ground before low-lying evacuation routes become flooded.
• Consult with your State natural resources department if you plan to alter landscape on your property in such a way that it may affect the flow of water in a flood.
• Consult with your State departments of environmental management or natural resources on how to prevent overflow of manure pits or lagoons into local streams and rivers.
• Construct buildings for the storage of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides, and fuels so that these have minimal chance of contaminating the environment.
• Install check valves in building sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up in sewer drains.
Floods: Response Actions
Response actions to flooding vary depending on whether the flood is a flash flood or slower rising flood. With a flash flood, seconds may make the difference between life and death. If you hear a flash flood warning on the radio or television, or hear the roar of approaching waters, act immediately.
For a Flash Flood:
• Head for the nearest high ground without hesitation, bringing with you animals in danger. Even if you are not sure where to take your animals, do not leave them behind unless it would compromise your safety.
• For a slower rising flood: If you must leave an animal behind, ensure that it always has an easy escape route. Never tie an animal up if floods are pending.
• Secure all outdoor items or store them inside on upper levels.
• Move all valuable household possessions to upper levels above rising water.
• Move cars, machinery, and all livestock • to higher ground.
• Check emergency food and water supplies and move them to a high-and-dry place.
• Listen to radio announcements from emergency officials. If you are told to evacuate, do so immediately. Use only those routes recommended by local authorities. Any other route could be blocked or otherwise made impassable by flooding.
• At the earliest sign of danger, start moving your animals to a safe location.
• If there is time before evacuation, turn off all utilities at the main switch. Do not touch any electrical equipment unless it is in a dry area. Always wear well-insulated rubber footwear and gloves.
• Do not attempt to drive over a flooded road; you can become stranded or trapped. If your car stalls while in flowing water, abandon it immediately, taking with you any animals (unless it would compromise your safety). Cars may only serve as traps in the face of a raging flood.
• Do not attempt to cross flowing water that is above your knees.
• If you are evacuating horses, do not ride them through swift moving, deep water.
Floods: Recovery Tips
• Before horses or livestock are returned to property that has flooded, be sure that all perimeter fences are intact and any debris has been removed.
• Before entering a building or barn:
• Check for structural damage.
• Check for any wildlife that may have gotten trapped inside. Open the building and let it air out for several minutes to remove foul odors or escaped gas. Do not use a match or lantern as a source of light because of the possibility of gas buildup. A battery-powered flashlight is recommended.
• Once inside a building: Check for electrical shorts and live wires. Make sure the power is turned off and do not use any electricity until an electrician has checked your system. Report broken utility lines to appropriate authorities.
• Open all doors and windows to help dry the building.
• Shovel out mud while it is still moist to give walls and floors an opportunity to dry.
• Consult with your veterinarian, department of agriculture, county extension educator, or State chemist to determine the safety of the feed for animals and products for human consumption. The release of hazardous materials during floods can lead to poisonings in animals that ingest or come into contact with the hazardous materials.
• Do not use food or bedding that has come in contact with floodwaters. Contamination of animal feed can be toxic to animals and humans who consume the meat or milk of cattle that ingest these fungal toxins.
• Do not give animals tap water until it has been boiled or determined safe. Wells should be flushed out and the water tested before drinking.
• In a barn, empty any water containers that contain floodwater, and be sure to clean them with diluted chlorine bleach or some other type of disinfectant before they are used again.