Sustin's House Park flooded May 2015The floods have hit Austin, and the rest of Texas hard the last few days.  Though this message might come  a little late for some, there’s more rain on the way, and the ground is saturated. Simply put, more flooding could be on the way.

A large number of people here in Austin have found themselves hit by low level flooding in their home. It came unexpectedly, but now the danger is here there are some simple steps you can take to try and keep the flood water out of your home.  This wont stop any major flooding, but it’s enough to save yourself from the extensive damage that can come from just a few inches of water inside your home.

Get Out

sandbagsagainstfloodinginuseA pre-face warning – if you are in a serious flood zone and water is rising fast, get out of your house and seek higher ground.  Fast moving silt laden flood water can easily knock you off your feet when it’s only an inch or two deep, and it can cause structural damage to your home.  If the flood water keeps rising or looks like it may block off your escape route then exit your home fast.

Generally you will receive multiple notifications if you are in a zone where you need to leave urgently, but don’t rely on someone else, keep an eye on the water levels. It can take only a few minutes for flood water levels to rise significantly.

Protect your Valuables

  • Disconnect all electrical devices
  • Move any items susceptable to water damage to the upper levels of your home, or to high, stable locations (Top of refrigerator etc)
  • If possible turn off the electricity and gas in your home (the city genreally does this at the mains in flooded areas, but if it is somehow missed it could cause fires in your home)
  • Take smaller easily transportable valuables to a friends house who is not in danger of flooding.

Keeping the Water Out

How to Use SandbagsI reached out to a few friends who suffered from the floods about using sandbags.  Sandbags can be found at most home improvement stores, Home Depot etc, and can be stacked around entryways to your home.  They are not completely water tight, but you can plug any small gaps with towels ot old t-shirts to help. If you think you wont have time to go and buy sandbags you can also fill bags with dirt (cotton preferred) and stack them in a similar manner.

If you have it to hand you can also take a roll of wide plastic, lay it on the ground, place the sandbags along the inner most edge, and then fold it over the sandbags to keep it as watertight as possible.

floodstoppedbysandbagsIf water is still getting in, look at small home water pumps that can be used to pump water to the correct side of the bags. You’ll want to keep an eye on these, an d only turn the pump on when the intake pipe is completely submerged in water.

Electric pumps are cheaper, but they may be unusable unless you have a battery or generator to supply them.

If all else fails, you can always scoop up the water in a container and pour it out, which can be the easier solution of only a small amount of water is getting through your sandbag barrier.

Dealing with Flood Water Inside the Home

To avoid damage to your home you should soak up any water as quickly as possible.  Clothes, towels, and any other absorbant materials can be used. They may get ruined, but it’s probably going to be cheaper to replace those than your floors.

If the flood water is too high to soak up look at using a pump to get water out of your home as fast as possible.

Once flood levels have receeded invest in a dehumidifier to help water evaporate quickly inside your home.

Oliver Whitham

Founder at In ATX
Oliver is a Business and Marketing Consultant by day and owner of In ATX and Austin Virtual Workers by night. He lives, drinks, works and eats in this fine city, and figured that it was time to write something about it!