Flooding on the Mississippi River in 1993 was the inspiration for EDEN, and continues to be a major focus of EDEN activity. 2011 saw another great flood on the Mississippi – prompted by a snow melt in the uplands. In 2012 the state of New Jersey saw what is being called its “Katrina” – surge in places they never thought they would see it.

With each major flooding, the EDEN Chair communicates with Extension in the affected states, offering EDEN assistance and reminding them of the resources available.

EDEN takes that opportunity, too, to refresh its pages and to add resources specifically requested by the affected states – to pages and to its Resource Catalog. EDEN also works closely with its primary partner agency, NIFA, to ensure that USDA knows how Extension has been affected and how Extension is serving its communities. EDEN Response Notes is the EDEN system for finding out if our Extension members need any type of assistance with disaster response and recovery, and learning about their response and recovery activities.
Read About Response Notes to learn why and how we use EDEN Response Notes.
Enter your Response Note using our online form (requires login).

Floods and Flood Impacts

Floods are the most common and widespread of all natural disasters–except fire. Most communities in the United States have experienced some kind of flooding, after spring rains, heavy thunderstorms, winter snow thaws, unusual rise of lakes, or surge of oceans and seas as a result of hurricanes or tsunamis.
Floods can be slow rising, especially in areas of broad expanses of flat land, where rains make their way down river, causing overflow of the banks and backflow into feeder streams. They can rise rapidly – in the mountains, at the foot of mountain streams, and during a storm surge. Just as waters may rise rapidly or slowly, the flow of floodwater may be fast or slow. If you are faced with fighting floods or trying to prevent future damage, you need to know what type of flooding occurs in your area.
For flood insurance purposes, a flood is defined as “a general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties…from:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters,
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or
  • A mudflow (NAIC, 2008).

Opportunities for Extension to Reduce Impacts

Floods have impacts in agriculture (land, crops, harvests) and the built environment (homes and offices). Because of these physical impacts, there is a secondary impact on mental health, as well as family and business finances. Impacts can be reduced by Extension education immediately before, after and between floods.

In addition to knowing the nature of the flood, it is important to understand that a given flood-fight or mitigation technique proven to work on one soil type may not work on another; and that a home flood proofing project suitable for one climate and style of construction may not be suitable in another.
It is relatively easy, using the Internet or the library, to find solutions to flood problems, many of which can be employed by homeowners and small business owners. Educators and consumers should always check with your local experts and officials when selecting a flood protection system, to see what local conditions and factors may influence the success of your proposed solution.

Extension also has a role in reducing future flood damage and aiding communities in their flood damage prevention programs while working within traditional Extension program areas. Some examples would include:

  • adding “Flood Insurance” to a First-Time Homebuyer program;
  • adding flood risk consideration in local community and economic development plans; and
  • participating in state and local hazard mitigation planning projects.

If your Extension Service provides training for newly elected community officials, the impacts of including flood-risk management in the curriculum could be enormous.

Preparedness, Messaging and Insurance Facts

Help your communities prepare

  • Know YOUR risk – talk to your local emergency manager
  • Prepare yourself and your Extension office for floodingfloodling
  • Help your local communities prepare to protect and recover
  • Help consumer clients be informed, know their risk and prepare and protect themselves

Principal messages for clientelle:

  • Buy flood insurance – www.floodsmart.gov (flood insurance basics page)
  • Turn around. Don’t Drown http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/water/tadd/
  • Make a disaster supply kit – one for staying, one for going
  • Listen for local alerts; evacuate if advised to do so by local officials
  • Protect your property from rising water, if possible.

Important Flood Insurance Facts

  • Flooding is not covered by homeowners insurance, a separate policy is required
  • There is a 30-day waiting period between purchase and coverage becoming effective (with a few exceptions)
  • Flood insurance covers damage caused by rising water – building and contents coverage is provided in two separate policies, except when written as Preferred Risk. Coverage purchased as a requirement for getting a mortgage typically covers on the building, not the contents.
  • Flood insurance provides up to $1,000 to protect an insured building and $1,000 to protect insured contents.
  • Receipts are required, flood must be reasonably expected; the policy deductible is not applied. (See coverage C on the Dwelling form)
  • Flood insurance pays up to $30,000 toward the cost of elevating a home if it was substantially damaged by the flood and is being required to elevate before being restored (see Coverage D on the Dwelling form).