Flood events might only happen once or twice per year but disaster readiness should be something that you think about year-round. As a resident, there a quite a few things you can do to prepare. Flooding can occur rapidly – storing key documents and resources on-hand will ensure that you’ll have the best possible chance at keeping your household safe and recovering quickly.
Well before a flood
Well before a flooding event happens, you should:
- Determine reliable news sources and review your community’s emergency warning system. Are there television and radio stations that you can tune into for real-time updates on evolving conditions? Keep in mind that news sources may or may not be accessible during large-scale disasters. What emergency warning systems does your community have in place? These can be sirens, text alerts, etc… Knowing where information will come from in emergencies will save you time and make sure you know what’s going on. Here in Sea Isle City, the flood warning system is provided through the Office of Emergency Management in coordination with our local cable channel 97 and radio stations. You may also choose to enroll in Sea Isle City's "Reverse 911" program and E-Alert system. Both of these systems will alert you to emergency situations. Our police vehicles are also equipped with public address systems so that instructions can be delivered locally. If anyone in your home will require assistance evacuating in an emergency by ambulance, please contact the Health Department in advance.
- Obtain information about your evacuation routes and shelter options. You may have to evacuate your home at night in dangerous conditions. Knowing where you’re supposed to go and how to get there ahead of time can keep you safe. Sea Isle City's evacuation routes are contained within Cape May County's larger evacuation network. You can find more information about these routes here.
- Write a communication plan. During emergency events you may or may not have access to the internet and phones. It’s important that you and your family members memorize key phone numbers, have a plan for contacting each other, and know where to meet if you can’t reach each other. It’s advisable to designate an out-of-town contact person that can help coordinate loved ones who have spotty access to communication. FEMA has resources to help you do this.
- Create a go-kit. If you have to leave your home during a flood emergency, it will likely be in a rush and possibly in a low-visibility situation. Create a backpack kit a head of time with key documents and survival tools in order to lessen the stress of evacuation. To get you started, Ready.gov has some tips for creating a comprehensive disaster kit.
During a flood event
If a flood event occurs and you need to leave your home, there are a few key tips that you should remember:
- Grab your go-kit and documents. If you’ve prepared a go-kit ahead of time, remember to take it with you. If you haven’t, make sure to gather important documents (like passports, birth certificates, home deeds, etc…), important medications, and any supplies you think you might need in the near future.
- Secure your property. When evacuating, it’s often difficult to determine how long you’ll be gone. Before leaving your home, remember to make sure that your property is secured. If you think your house might get flooded, elevate valuables and delicate items. Shut off your utilities before you leave so that your home is not at risk for a gas leak or fire. If you have yard furniture or other outside items that might blow away, secure them before leaving.
- Take your pets. Given that situations can evolve quickly, your pets could be at great risk if you leave them in your home when you evacuate. If you can, take them with you to ensure that they stay safe.
- Avoid flooded areas. If you can, avoid driving or walking through flooded areas. Visual assessments of depths and current speeds are often deceptive – the water might be deeper or be moving faster than you expected. Also, very small amounts of water can still destabilize you (it only take 6” of water to knock a person over, and 2’ of water to move a car!). If you must walk in standing water, use a pole or a stick to ensure that the ground is still there. DO NOT drive around road barriers; the road or bridge may be washed out.
- Monitor the situation. After evacuating, monitor the situation from a safe distance. The Sea Isle City Flood Cam is the first camera placed on a barrier island by the New Jersey Coastal Coalition. The webcam can help residents and visitors keep an eye on rising stormwaters and monitor flooding during events.
After a flood event
- Stay away from flood waters. Flood water comes into contact with roads, drains, septic systems, and other surfaces. As a result, it can contain hazardous materials that might be harmful to your health.
- Make sure that areas are secure before returning if you evacuated. Sometimes residents make the mistake of returning to their homes too soon, when they’re still at risk for injury or loss. It’s a difficult judgement call to make, because you’re probably eager to assess damage and return to your life, but take a moment to assess security before going back.
- Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Electrical current can travel through water. Report downed power lines to the Power Company or Sea Isle City Emergency Management Office at 609-263-4311 or dial 911.
- Identify financial options for rebuilding. If your property is damaged and you want to rebuild or repair it, there may be rebuilding/relief funds available to you. Contact us for questions about existing City resources.